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PICTURES  BY 
CHARLESGREEN% 
HEDLEYFITTON 


*»- 


Presented  to  the 
LIBRARY  of  the 

UNIVERSITY  OF  TORONTO 

by 

REVEREND  A.F.    POLLEX 


THE   MANCHESTER  MAN. 


1896. 


X 


fell!  ""1  il5' 

<   *    ' ;•  i  '    .  .     :•    '       -v.    \      i .' 


MRS.    G.    L.    BANKS. 
From  a  Photograph  by  Elliott  &>  fry 


1  V  HafhANlSHESTt*. 


PR 


CONTENTS. 


CHAPTER 

I.  The  Flood  

II.  No   One   Knows 

III.  How    the     Rev.    Joshua    Brookes    and    Simon 

Interpreted   a   Shakesperian   Text 

IV.  Mischief          

V.  Ellen  Chadwick    ... 

VI.  To   Martial   Music 

VII.  The   Reverend  Joshua   Brookes 

VIII.  The   Blue-Coat   School 

IX.  The   Snake 

X.  First   Antagonism  

XI.  The   Blue-Coat   Boy 

XII.  The  Gentleman 

XIII.  Simon's  Pupil 

XIV.  Jabez  goes  out   into  the    World 

XV.  Apprenticeship 

XVI.  In   War  and   Peace    ... 

XVII.  In  the   Warehouse 

XVIII.  Easter   Monday 

XIX.  Peterloo 

XX.  Action  and   Reaction   ... 

XXI.  Wounded 

XXII.  Mr.   Clegg 

XXIII.  In  the  Theatre   Royal 

XXIV.  Madame   Broadbent's  Fan 


Clegg 


PAGE 

I 

10 

20 
30 

39 
50 
59 
67 

77 

87 

96 

107 

"3 

122 
I32 
142 

152 
l62 
172 

1 86 
196 
205 
214 

222 


VI. 


CONTENTS — Continued. 


CHAPTER 

XXV.  Retrospective 

XXVI.  On   the   Portico   Steps 

XXVII.  Manhood 

XXVIII.  Once  in   a   Life 

XXIX.  On   Ardwick   Green    Pond... 

XXX.  Blind 

XXXI.  Coronation  Day     ... 

XXXII.  Evening:  Indoors  and   Out 

XXXIII.  Clogs 

XXXIV.  Birds  of  a   Feather      ... 

XXXV.  At   Carr  Cottage  ... 

XXXVI.  The   Lovers'   Walk      ... 

XXXVII.  A  Ride  on   a   Rainy  Night 

XXXVIII.  Defeated         

XXXIX.  Like   Father,  Like   Son     ... 
XL.  With   all   His    Faults... 
XLI.  Marriage... 

XLII.  Blows  

XLI  II.  Partnership 

XLIV.  Man   and  Beast 

XLV.  Wounds  Inflicted   and   Endured 

XLVI.  The  Mower   with   His  Scythe  ... 

XLVII.  The   Last   Act 


PAGE 
231 
241 
250 
258 
268 
279 
288 
299 

3°9 
3*9 
327 
337 
347 
357 
367 
376 
385 
395 
406 

4*7 
428 

438 
447 


INDEX    TO    ILLUSTRATIONS. 

PORTRAITS. 

(DRAWN   BY  HEDLEY  FITTON.) 

THE  AUTHOR  (From  a  Photograph  by  Elliott  &  Fry)  ...  FRONTISPIECE. 

To  FACE  PAGE. 
THE  REV.  JOSHUA  BROOKES,  M.A.  (From  a  Woodbury-type  of  the 

Oil-painting  by  Minasi)                ...             ...             ...             ...  21 

THE  REV.  JEREMIAH  SMITH,  D.D.  (From  an  Engraving  in  the 

Grammar  School  Register  ...             ...             ...             ...  97 

HUMPHREY  CHETHAM,  Fundator  (From  an  Engraving)     ...            ...  130 

JOSEPH  NADIN  (From  an  Engraving  in  Chetham  Library)       ...  164 

SAMUEL  BAMFORD  (From  an  Engraving)              ...             ..,             ....  176 

HENRY  HUNT  (From  an  Engraving-,  after  Woolnooth)             ...  215 

HENRY  LIVERSEEGE  (From  an  Engraving,  after  Bradley)               ...  301 

GEORGE  PILKINGTON  (From  a  Photograph)...             ...            ...  405 

MRS.  ABEL  HEYWOOD  (ttee  GRIMES)  (From  a  Photograph)  ...  444 

FULL     PAGE     ILLUSTRATIONS. 

To  FACE 
CHAPTER  ARTIST.  PAGE 

i. — THE  RESCUE Chas.  Green  ...  6 

2.— THE  OLD  CHURCH,  N.E Hedley  Fitton  ...  18 

4. — "  THE  SEVEN  STARS  "  INN    ...         ...         ...         ,,          ,,  ...  35 

5. — ELLEN  CHADWICK  WANTS  PRINCE  WILLIAM...  Chas.  Green  ...  41 

6. — MANCHESTER  INFIRMARY        ...         Hedley  Fitton  ...  54 


viii.  INDEX  TO  ILLUSTRATIONS — Continued. 

To  FACE 

CHAPTER                                                                                       ARTIST.  PAGE 

8. — CRUMPSALL   HALL,   HUMPHREY    CHETHAM'S 

BIRTHPLACE       Hedley  Fitton   ...  70 

8. — READING-ROOM,  CHETHAM  LIBRARY ,,         ,,          ...  73 

8. — SNAKE  CELLAR ,,          „        ...  81 

10. — THE  FIGHT  IN  THE  COLLEGE  YARD Chas.  Green      ...  94 

ii. — SMITHY  DOOR  AND  CATEATON  STREET         ...  Hedley  Fitton  ...  106 

12. — MARKET  PLACE  AND  EXCHANGE        ,,           ,,        ...  no 

13. — HUNT'S  BANK  AND  BRIDGE ,           ,,        ...  114 

13. — KITCHEN,  CHETHAM  HOSPITAL ,           ,,        ...  117 

16. — MARKET  STREET  LANE  (Lower  End)          ..          ,,           ,,        ...  144 

16. — CLEGG'S  ENTRY  IN  LONG  MILLGATE           ...         ,,          ,,        ...  147 

16. — WHAT  WOULD  MRS.  BROADBENT  SAY?       ...  Chas.  Green      ...  149 

17. — GRAMMAR  SCHOOL  AND  COLLEGE  GATE       ...  Hedley  Fitton  ...  153 

19. — A  P'ETERLOO  INCIDENT          Chas.  Green      ...  181 

20. — "  THE  STAR  "  INN       Hedley  Fitton  ...  191 

23. — BRAVO,  CLEGG  !           ...         ...         ...         ...  Chas.  Green      ...  221 

24. — WHALEY  BRIDGE         Hedley  Fitton  ...  225 

25. — CARR  COTTAGE            ...         ...         ...         ...         ,,          ,,        ...  234 

26. — BY  THE  PORTICO  STEPS          ...         ...         ...  Chas.  Green      ...  245 

29. — ON  ARDWICK  GREEN  POND ,          ,,          ...  275 

34. — BIRDS  OF  A  FEATHER ,,          ,,           ...  322 

38. — THE  MIDNIGHT  STRUGGLE „          ,,          ...  363 

41.— COURTYARD,  BARLOW  HALL   ... Hedley  Fitton  ...  389 

43. — MAN  AND  WIFE           Chas.  Green      .  .  413 

45. — BARLOW  HALL             Hedley  Fitton  ...  435 

46. — NEW  BAILEY  BRIDGE  AND  RIVER  IRWELL  ...         ,,          ,,        ...  441 

APPENDIX. — REFECTORY,  CHETHAM'S  HOSPITAL...         ,,          ,,        ...  471 

Ditto.    — HUMPHREY  CHETHAM'S  STATUE       ...  Elias  Bancroft  ...  480 

INITIALS. 

i. — AN  ARK  OF  SAFETY     Chas.  Green      ...  i 

4. — "SEVEN  STARS" — Interior Hedley  Fitton  ...  30 

6. — PRINCELY  RECOGNITION         ...         ...         ...  Chas.  Green      ...  50 


INDEX  TO  ILLUSTRATIONS — Continued. 


CHAPTER  ARTIST. 


To  FACE 
PAGE 


7. — COLLEGE  OUTLET  TO  THE  RIVER     Hedley  Fitton  ...  59 

8. — EXIT  FROM  COLLEGE  YARD    ...         ...         ...         ,,          ,,        ...  67 

10. — COLLEGE-GATE  AND  GRAMMAR  SCHOOL        ...         ,,          ,,        ...  87 

n. — A  BLUE-COAT  BOY      '.,        ...        ,,          „        ...  96 

13. — JABEZ  ON  CELLAR  STEPS        Chas.  Green      ...  113 

14. — COLLEGE  KITCHEN-DOOR        Hedley  Fitton  ...  122 

16. — SHAW'S  SHOP,  MARKET  STREET        ,          „        ...  142 

17. — JABEZ  TEACHING  TOM  HULME          Chas.  Green      ...  152 

18. — BALANCED         Hedley  Fitton  ...  162 

19. — SAM  BAMFORD'S  COTTAGE      ,,          ,,        ...  172 

20. — SHOT  DOWN      Chas.  Green      ...  186 

22. — HOUSE  OF  JOSHUA  BROOKES Hedley  Fitton  ...  205 

25.— SEDAN  CHAIR Chas.  Green      ...  231 

28. — CROWNING  JABEZ  WITH  PUNCH-BOWL           ..       ,,          ,,          ...  258 

32. — AUGUSTA  AT  HER  HARP         ,,          ,,          ...  299 

33. — HOUSE  OF  GRAMMAR  SCHOOL  MASTER        ...       ,,         ,,          ...  309 

34.— "  THE  PALACE  "  INN Hedley  Fitton  ...  319 

35. — «  WHITE  HART  "  SIGN          „          ,,          ...  327 

37.— A  MIDNIGHT  ALARM Chas.  Green      ...  347 

38. — ATTEMPTED  FLIGHT ,,          ,,          ...  357 

40. — A  DYING  GIFT            Hedley  Fitton  ...  376 

42. — AUGUSTA  DRESSING Chas.  Green      ...  394 

46. — THE  NEW  BAILEY  PRISON     Hedley  Fitton   ...  438 

47.— EMPTIES            ,,        ,,          ...  447 


MAPS. 

To  FACE 

PAGE 

PLAN  OF  MANCHESTER  AND  SALFORD  taken  about  1650         3 

BRITTON'S  MAP  OF  MANCHESTER  AND  SALFORD,  1807 87 

PIGOT'S  NEW  PLAN  OF  MANCHESTER  AND  SALFORD,  1821       ...         ...     288 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


CHAPTER    THE    FIRST. 

THE    FLOOD. 

HEN  Pliny  lost  his  life,  and 
Herculaneum  was  buried, 
Manchester  was  born.  Whilst 
lava  and  ashes  blotted  from 
sight  and  memory  fair  and 
luxurious  Roman  cities  close 
to  the  Capitol,  the  Roman 
soldiery  of  Titus,  under  their 
general  Agricola,  laid  the 
foundations  of  a  distant  city 
which  now  competes  with  the 
great  cities  of  the  world. 
Where  now  rise  forests  of  tall 
chimneys,  and  the  hum  of 
whirling  spindles,  spread  the  dense  woods  of  Arden ;  and  from 
the  clearing  in  their  midst  rose  the  Roman  castrum  of  Mamutium,* 
which  has  left  its  name  of  Castle  Field  as  a  memorial  to  us.  But 
where  their  summer  camp  is  said  to  have  been  pitched,  on  the 

*  Prior  to  the  close  of  the  Fourteenth  Century,  Manchester   was  written  Mamecester. 


AN  ARK   OF  SAFETY. 


2  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

airy  rock  at  the  confluence  of  the  rivers  Irk  and  Irvvell,  sacred 
church  and  peaceful  college  have  stood  for  centuries,  and  only 
antiquaries  can  point  to  Roman  possession,  or  even  to  the 
baronial  hall  which  the  Saxon  lord  perched  there  for  security. 

And  only  an  antiquary  or  a  very  old  inhabitant  can  recall 
Manchester  as  it  was  at  the  close  of  the  last  century ;  and 
shutting  his  eyes  upon  railway-arch,  station,  and  esplanade,  upon 
Palatine  buildings,  broad  roadways,  and  river  embankments,  can 
see  the  Irk  and  the  Irwell  as  they  were  when  the  Cathedral 
was  the  Collegiate  Church,  with  a  diminutive  brick  wall  three 
parts  round  its  ancient  graveyard.  Then  the  irregular-fronted 
rows  of  quaint  old  houses  which  still,  under  the  name  of  Half 
Street,  crowd  upon  two  sides  of  the  churchyard,  with  only  an 
intervening  strip  of  a  flagged  walk  between,  closed  it  up  on  a 
third  side,  and  shut  the  river  (lying  low  beneath)  from  the  view, 
with  a  huddled  mass  of  still  older  dwellings,  some  of  which 
were  thrust  out  of  sight,  and  were  only  to  be  reached  by  flights 
of  break-neck  steps  of  rock  or  stone,  and  like  their  hoary 
fellows  creeping  down  the  narrow  roadway  of  Hunt's  Bank, 
overhung  the  Irwell,  and  threatened  to  topple  into  it  some 
day. 

The  Chetham  Hospital  or  College  still  looks  solidly  down  on 
the  Irk  at  the  angle  of  the  streams  ;  the  old  Grammar  School 
has  been  suffered  to  do  the  same ;  and — thanks  to  the  honest 
workmen  who  built  for  our  ancestors — the  long  lines  of  houses 
known  as  Long  Millgate  are  for  the  most  part  standing,  and 
on  the  river  side  have  resisted  the  frequent  floods  of  centuries. 

In  1799  that  line  was  almost  unbroken,  from  the  College 
(where  it  commenced  at  Hunt's  Bank  Bridge)  to  Red  Bank. 
The  short  alley  by  the  Town  Mill,  called  Mill  Brow,  which  led 
down  to  the  wooden  Mill  Bridge,  was  little  more  of  a  gap  than 
those  narrow  entries  or  passages  which  pierced  the  walls  like 


fill 

tetii 


d 


O 

a 

UG 

Q 


H 

CO 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  3 

slits  here  and  there,  and  offered  dark  and  perilous  passage  to 
courts  and  alleys,  trending  in  steep  incline  to  the  very  bed  of 
the  Irk.  The  houses  themselves  had  been  good  originally,  and 
were  thus  cramped  together  for  defence  in  perilous  times,  when 
experience  taught  that  a  narrow  gorge  was  easier  held  against 
warlike  odds  than  an  open  roadway. 

Ducie  Bridge  had  then  no  existence,  but  Tanners'  Bridge — 
no  doubt  a  strong  wooden  structure  like  that  at  Mill  Brow — 
accessible  from  the  street  only  by  one  of  those  narrow  steep 
passages,  stood  within  a  few  yards  of  its  site,  and  had  a  place 
on  old  maps  so  far  back  as  1650.  Its  name  is  expressive,  and 
goes  to  prove  that  the  tannery  on  the  rocky  banks  of  the  Irk, 
behind  the  houses  of  Long  Millgate,  then  opposite  to  the  end 
of  Miller's  Lane,  was  a  tannery  at  least  a  century  and  a  half 
before  old  Simon  Clegg  worked  amongst  the  tan-pits,  and  called 
William  Clough  master. 

To  this  sinuous  and  picturesque  line  of  houses,  the  streams, 
with  their  rocky  and  precipitous  banks,  will  have  served  in  olden 
times  as  a  natural  defensive  moat  (indeed,  it  is  noticeable  that 
old  Manchester  kept  pretty  much  within  the  angle  of  its  rivers), 
and  in  1799,  from  one  end  of  Millgate  to  the  other,  the 
dwellers  by  the  waterside  looked  across  the  stream  on  green 
and  undulating  uplands,  intersected  by  luxuriant  hedgerows,  a 
bleachery  at  Walker's  Croft,  and  a  short  terrace  of  houses  near 
Scotland  Bridge,  denominated  Scotland,  being  the  sole  breaks  in 
the  verdure. 

Between  the  tannery  and  Scotland  Bridge  the  river  makes  a 
sharp  bend ;  and  here,  at  the  elbow,  another  mill,  with  its 
corresponding  dam,  was  situated.  The  current  of  the  Irk,  if  not 
deep,  is  strong  at  all  times,  though  kept  by  its  high  banks 
within  narrow  compass.  But  when,  as  is  not  unseldom  the  case, 
there  is  a  sudden  flushing  of  water  from  the  hill-country,  it 


4  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

rises,  rises,  rises,  stealthily,  though  swiftly,  till  the  stream  overtops 
its  banks,  washes  over  low-lying  bleach-crofts,  fields,  and  gardens, 
mounts  foot  by  foot  over  the  fertile  slopes,  invades  the  houses, 
and,  like  a  mountain-robber  sweeping  from  his  fastness  on  a 
peaceful  vale,  carries  his  spoil  with  him,  and  leaves  desolation 
and  wailing  behind. 

Such  a  flood  as  this,  following  a  heavy  thunder-storm, 
devastated  the  valley  of  the  Irk,  on  the  i/th  of  August, 
1799. 

Well  was  it  then  for  the  tannery  and  those  houses  on  the 
bank  of  the  Irk  which  had  their  foundations  in  the  solid  rock, 
for  the  waters  surged  and  roared  at  their  base  and  over  pleasant 
meadows — a  widespread  turbulent  sea,  with  here  and  there  an 
island  of  refuge,  which  the  day  before  had  been  a  lofty  mound. 

The  flood  of  the  previous  Autumn,  when  a  coach  and  horses 
had  been  swept  down  the  Irwell,  and  men  and  women  were 
drowned,  was  as  nothing  to  this.  The  tannery  yard,  high  as  it 
was  above  the  bed  of  the  Irk,  and  solid  as  was  its  embankment, 
was  threatened  with  invasion.  The  surging  water  roared  and 
beat  against  its  masonry,  and  licked  its  coping  with  frothy 
tongue  and  lip,  like  a  hungry  giant,  greedy  for  fresh  food,  Men 
with  thick  clogs  and  hide-bound  legs,  leather  gloves  and  aprons, 
were  hurrying  to  and  fro  with  barrows  and  bark-boxes  for  the 
reception  of  the  valuable  hides  which  their  mates,  armed  with 
long-shafted  hooks  and  tongs,  were  dragging  from  the  pits  pell- 
mell,  ere  the  advancing  waters  should  encroach  upon  their 
territory,  and  empty  the  tan-pits  for  them. 

Already  the  insatiate  flood  bore  testimony  to  its  ruthless 
greed.  Hanks  of  yarn,  pieces  of  calico,  hay,  uptorn  bushes, 
planks,  chairs,  boxes,  dog-kennels,  and  hen-coops,  a  shattered 
chest  of  drawers,  pots  and  pans,  had  swept  past,  swirling  and 
eddying  in  the  flood,  which  by  this  time  spread  like  a  vast  lake 


THE  MANCHESTER   MAN.  5 

over  the  opposite  lands,  and  had  risen  within  three  feet  of  the 
arch  of  Scotland  Bridge,  and  hardly  left  a  trace  where  the 
mill-dam  chafed  it  commonly. 

Too  busy  were  the  tanners,  under  the  eye  of  their  master, 
to  stretch  out  hand  or  hook  to  arrest  the  progress  of  either 
furniture  or  live  stock,  though  bee-hives  and  hen-coops,  and  more 
than  one  squealing  pig,  went  racing  with  the  current,  now  rising 
towards  the  footway  of  Tanners'  Bridge. 

Every  window  of  every  house  upon  the  lower  banks  was 
crowded  with  anxious  heads,  for  flooded  Scotland  rose  like  an 
island  from  the  watery  waste,  and  their  own  cellars  were  fast 
filling.  There  had  been  voices  calling  to  each  other  from  window 
to  window  all  the  morning ;  but  now  from  window  to  window, 
from  house  to  house,  rang  one  reduplicated  shriek,  which  caused 
many  of  the  busy  tanners  to  quit  their  work,  and  rush  to  the 
water's  edge.  To  their  horror,  a  painted  wooden  cradle,  which 
had  crossed  the  deeply-submerged  dam  in  safety,  was  floating 
foot-foremost  down  to  destruction,  with  an  infant  calmly  sleeping 
in  its  bed  ;  the  very  motion  of  the  waters  having  seemingly 
lulled  it  to  sounder  repose  ! 

"  Good  Lord  !  It's  a  choilt  1  "  exclaimed  Simon  Clegg,  the 
eldest  tanner  in  the  yard.  "  Lend  a  hand  here,  fur  the  sake  o' 
th'  childer  at  whoam.' 

Half  a  dozen  hooks  and  plungers  were  outstretched,  even 
while  he  spoke  ;  but  the  longest  was  lamentably  too  short  to 
arrest  the  approaching  cradle  in  its  course,  and  the  unconscious 
babe  seemed  doomed.  With  frantic  haste  Simon  Clegg  rushed 
on  to  Tanners'  Bridge,  followed  by  a  boy  ;  and  there,  with 
hook  and  plunger,  they  met  the  cradle  as  it  drifted  towards 
them,  afraid  of  over-balancing  it  even  in  their  attempt  to  save. 
It  swerved,  and  almost  upset  ;  but  Simon  dexterously  caught  his 
hook  within  the  wooden  hood,  and  drew  the  frail  bark  and  its 


6  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

living  freight  close  to  the  bridge.  The  boy,  and  a  man  named 
Cooper,  lying  flat  on  the  bridge,  then  clutched  at  it  with 
extended  hands,  raised  it  carefully  from  the  turbid  water,  and 
drew  it  safely  between  the  open  rails  to  the  footway,  amidst  the 
shouts  and  hurrahs  of  breathless  and  excited  spectators. 

The  babe  was  screaming  terribly.  The  shock  when  the  first 
hook  stopped  the  progress  of  the  cradle  had  disturbed  its  dreams, 
and  its  little  fat  arms  were  stretched  out  piteously  as  strange 
faces  looked  down  upon  it  instead  of  the  mother's  familiar 
countenance.  Wrapping  the  patchwork  quilt  around  it,  to  keep 
it  from  contact  with  his  wet  sleeves  and  apron,  Simon,  tenderly 
as  a  woman,  lifted  the  infant  in  his  rough  arms,  and  strove  to 
comfort  it,  but  in  vain.  His  beard  of  three  days  growth  was 
as  a  rasp  to  its  soft  skin,  and  the  closer  he  caressed,  the  more 
it  screamed.  The  men  from  the  tannery  came  crowding  round 
him. 

"What  dost  ta  mean  to  do  wi'  th'  babby?"  asked  the  man 
Cooper  of  old  Simon.  "Aw'd  tak'  it  whoam  to  my  missis,  but 
th'  owd  lass  is  nowt  to  be  takken  to,  an'  wur  as  cross  as  two 
sticks  when  oi  only  axed  fur  mi  baggin*  to  bring  to  wark  wi' 
mi  this  mornin',"  added  he,  with  rueful  remembrance  of  the 
scolding  wife  on  his  hearth. 

"Neay,  lad,  aw'l  not  trust  th'  poor  choilt  to  thy  Sally.  It 
'ud  be  loike  chuckin'  it  out  o'  th'  wayter  into  th'  fire  (Hush-a- 
by,  babby).  Aw'll  just  tak  it  to  ar'  Bess,  and  hoo'll  cuddle  it 
up  and  gi'  it  summat  to  sup,  till  we  find  its  own  mammy," 
answered  Simon,  leaving  the  bridge.  "  Bring  the  kaytherf  alung, 
Jack,"  (to  the  boy)  "Bess'll  want  it.  We'n  noan  o'  that  tackle 
at  ar  place.  Hush-a-by,  hush-a-by,  babby." 

But  the  little  thing,  missing  its  natural  protector,  and  half 
stifled  in  the  swathing  quilt,  only  screamed  the  louder ;  and 

*  Food  for  a  meal,  so  called  from  the  bag  in  which  it  was  carried.  f  Cradle. 


THE    RESCUE. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  7 

Simon,  notwithstanding  his  kind  heart,  was  truly  glad  when  his 
daughter  Bess,  who  had  witnessed  the  rescue  from  their  own 
window,  met  him  at  the  tannery  gate,  and  relieved  him  of  his 
struggling  charge. 

"  Si  thi,  Bess  !  here's  a  God-send  fur  thi — a  poor  little  babby 
fur  thee  to  tend  an'  be  koind  to,  till  them  it  belungs  to  come 
a-seekin'  fur  it,"  said  he  to  the  young  woman ;  "  but  thah  mun 
give  it  summat  better  than  cowd  wayter — it's  had  too  mich  o' 
that  a'ready." 

•  "  That  aw  will,  poor  darlin' ! "  responded  she,  kissing  the 
babe's  velvet  cheeks  as,  sensible  of  a  change  of  nurses,  it  nestled 
to  her  breast.  "  Eh  !  but  there'll  be  sore  hearts  for  this  blessed 
babby,  somewheere."  And  she  turned  up  the  narrow  passage 
which  led  at  once  from  the  tan-yard  and  the  bridge,  stilling 
and  soothing  the  little  castaway  as  adroitly  as  an  experienced 
nurse. 

"  Neaw,  luk  thi,  lad,"  Simon  remarked  to  Cooper  ;  "  is  na  it 
fair  wonderful  heaw  that  babby  taks  to  ar  Bess  ?  But  it's  just 
a  way  hoo  has,  an'  theere  is  na  a  fractious  choilt  i'  a'  ar  yard 
but'll  be  quiet  wi'  Bess." 

Cooper  looked  after  her,  nodded  an  assent,  and  sighed,  as  if 
he  wished  some  one  in  another  yard  had  the  same  soothing 
way  with  her. 

But  the  voice  of  the  raging  water  had  not  stilled  like  that  of 
the  rescued  infant.  Back  went  the  two  men  to  their  task,  and 
worked  away  with  a  will  to  carry  hides,  bark,  and  implements 
to  places  of  security.  And  as  they  hurried  to  and  fro  with 
loads  on  back  or  barrow,  up,  up,  inch  by  inch,  foot  by  foot, 
the  swelling  flood  rose  still  higher,  till,  lapping  the  foot-bridge, 
curling  over  the  embankment,  it  drove  the  sturdy  tanners  back, 
flung  itself  into  the  pits,  and,  in  many  a  swirling  eddy,  washed 
tan  and  hair  and  skins  into  the  common  current. 


8  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

Not  so  much,  however,  went  into  its  seething  caldron  as 
might  have  been,  had  the  men  worked  with  less  vigour ;  and, 
quick  to  recognise  the  value  of  ready  service,  Mr.  Clough  led  his 
drenched  and  weary  workmen  to  the  "  Skinners'  Arms,"  in  Long 
Millgate,  and  ordered  a  supply  of  ale  and  bread  and  cheese  to 
be  served  out  to  them. 

At  the  door  of  the  public-house,  where  he  left  the  workmen  to 
the  enjoyment  of  this  impromptu  feast,  he  encountered  Simon  Clegg. 
The  kind  fellow  had  taken  a  hasty  run  to  his  own  tenement, 
"just  to  see  heaw  ar  Bess  an'  th'  babby  get  on  ;"  and  he  brought 
back  the  intelligence  that  it  was  "  a  lad,  an'  as  good  as  goold." 

"  Oh,  my  man,  I've  been  too  much  occupied  to  speak  to  you 
before,"  cried  Mr.  Clough.  "I  saw  you  foremost  in  the  rescue 
of  that  unfortunate  infant,  and  shall  not  forget  it.  Here  is  a 
crown  for  your  share  in  the  good  deed.  I  suppose  that  was  the 
child's  mother  you  gave  it  to  ?" 

Simon  was  a  little  man,  but  he  drew  back  with  considerable 
native  dignity. 

"  Thenk  yo',  measter,  all  th'  same,  but  aw  connot  tak'  brass 
fur  just  doin'  my  duty.  Aw'd  never  ha'  slept  i'  my  bed  gin 
that  little  un  had  bin  dreawned,  an'  me  lookin'  on  loike  a 
stump.  Neay ;  that  lass  wur  Bess,  moi  wench.  We'n  no  notion 
wheere  th'  lad's  mother  is." 

Mr.  Clough  would  have  pressed  the  money  upon  him,  but 
he  put  it  back  with  a  motion  of  his  hand. 

"  No,  sir  ;  aw'm  a  poor  mon,  a  varry  poor  man,  but  aw 
connot  tak'  money  fur  savin'  a  choilt's  life.  It's  agen'  ma 
conscience.  I'll  tak'  mi'  share  o'  the  bread  an'  cheese,  an'  drink 
yo'r  health  i'  a  sup  o'  ale,  but  aw  cudna'  tak'  that  brass  if  aw 
wur  deein'." 

And  Simon;  giving  a  scrape  with  his  clog,  and  a  duck  of 
his  head,  meant  for  a  bow,  passed  his  master  respectfully,  and 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  9 

went  clattering  up  the  steps  of  the  "  Skinners'  Arms,"  leaving 
the  gentleman  standing  there,  and  looking  after  him  in  mingled 
astonishment  and  admiration. 


CHAPTER   THE    SECOND. 

NO  ONE  KNOWS. 

HEN  the  scurrying  water,  thick  with  sand  and  mud, 
and  discoloured  with  dye  stuffs,  which  floated  in 
brightly-tinted  patches  on  its  surface,  filled  the  arch 
of  Scotland  Bridge,  and  left  only  the  rails  of 
Tanners'  Bridge  visible,  the  inundation  reached  its  climax ;  but  a 
couple  of  days  elapsed  before  the  flood  subsided  below  the  level 
of  the  unprotected  tannery-yard,  and  until  then  neither  Simon 
Clegg  nor  his  mates  could  resume  their  occupations. 

There  was  a  good  deal  of  lounging  about  Long  Millgate  and 
the  doors  of  the  "  Queen  Anne "  and  "  Skinners'  Arms "  of 
heavily  shod  men,  in  rough  garniture  of  thick  hide — armoury 
against  the  tan  and  water  in  which  their  daily  bread  was 
steeped. 

But  in  all  those  two  days  no  anxious  father,  no  white-faced 
mother,  had  run  from  street  to  street,  and  house  to  house,  to 
seek  and  claim  a  rescued  living  child.  No,  not  even  when  the 
week  had  passed,  though  the  story  of  his  "miraculous  preservation" 
was  the  theme  of  conversation  at  the  tea-tables  of  gentility 
and  in  the  bar-parlours  of  taverns ;  was  the  gossip  of  courts 
and  alleys,  highways  and  byways ;  and  though  echo,  in  the 
guise  of  a  "  flying  stationer,"  caught  it  up  and  spread  it 
broadcast  in  catchpenny  sheets,  far  beyond  the  confines  of  the 
inundation. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  n 

This  was  the  more  surprising  as  no  dead  bodies  had  been 
washed  down  the  river,  and  no  lives  were  reported  "  lost."  Had 
the  child  no  one  to  care  for  it  ? — no  relative  to  whom  its  little 
life  was  precious  ?  Had  it  been  abandoned  to  its  fate,  a  waif 
unloved,  uncared  for  ? 

The  house  in  which  Simon  Clegg  lived  was  situated  at  the 
very  end  of  Skinners'  Yard,  a  cul-de-sac,  to  which  the  only 
approach  was  a  dark,  covered  entry,  not  four  feet  wide.  The 
pavement  of  the  yard  was  natural  rock,  originally  hewn  into 
broad  flat  steps,  but  then  worn  with  water  from  the  skies,  and 
from  house- wifely  pails,  and  the  tramp  of  countless  clogs,  to  a 
rugged  steep  incline,  asking  wary  stepping  from  the  stranger  on 
exploration  after  nightfall.  Gas  was,  of  course,  unknown,  but 
not  even  an  oil-lamp  lit  up  the  gloom. 

In  the  sunken  basement  a  tripe-boiler  had  a  number  of  stone 
troughs  or  cisterns,  for  keeping  his  commodities  cool  for  sale. 
The  three  rooms  of  Simon  Clegg  were  situated  immediately 
above  these,  two  small  bed-rooms  overlooking  the  river  and 
pleasant  green  fields  beyond;  the  wide  kitchen  window  having 
no  broader  range  of  prospect  than  the  dreary  and  not  too 
savoury  yard.  Even  this  view  was  shut  out  by  a  batting  frame, 
resembling  much  a  long,  narrow  French  bedstead,  all  the  more 
that  on  its  canvas  surface  was  laid  a  thick  bed  of  raw  (that  is, 
undressed)  cotton,  freckled  with  seeds  and  fine  bits  of  husky  pod. 
Bess  was  a  batter,  and  her  business  was  to  turn  and  beat  the 
clotted  mass  with  stout  lithe  arms  and  willow-wands,  until  the 
fibres  loosened,  the  seeds  and  specks  fell  through,  and  a  billowy 
mass  of  whitish  down  lay  before  her.  It  was  not  a  healthy 
occupation  :  dust  and  flue  released  found  their  way  into  the 
lungs,  as  well  as  on  to  the  floor  and  furniture  ;  and  a  rosy-cheeked 
batter  was  a  myth.  Machinery  does  the  work  now — but  this 
history  deals  with  then ! 


12  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

During  the  week  dust  lay  thick  on  everything ;  even  Bessy's 
hair  was  fluffy  as  a  bursting  cotton  pod,  in  spite  of  the  kerchief 
tied  across  it ;  but  on  the  Saturday,  when  she  had  carried  her 
work  to  Simpson's  factory  in  Miller's  Lane,  and  came  back  with 
her  wages,  broom  and  duster  cleared  away  the  film  ;  wax  and 
brush  polished  up  the  old  bureau,  the  pride  and  glory  of  their 
kitchen  ;  the  two  slim  iron  candlesticks,  fender  and  poker,  were 
burnished  bright  as  steel ;  the  three-legged  round  deal  table  was 
scrubbed  white ;  and  then,  mounted  on  tall  pattens,  she  set 
about  with  mop  and  pail,  and  a  long-handled  stone,  to  cleanse 
the  flag  floor  from  the  week's  impurities. 

She  had  had  a  good  mother,  and,  to  the  best  of  her  ability, 
Bess  tried  to  follow  in  her  footsteps,  and  fill  the  vacant  place 
on  her  father's  hearth,  and  in  his  heart.  Her  mother  had  been 
dead  four  years,  and  Bess,  now  close  upon  twenty,  had  since 
then  lost  two  brothers,  and  lamented  as  lost  one  dearer  than  a 
brother — the  two  former  by  death,  the  other  by  the  fierce  demands 
of  war.  She  had  a  pale,  interesting  face,  with  dark  hair  and 
thoughtful,  deep  grey  eyes,  and  was,  if  anything,  too  quiet  and 
staid  for  her  years ;  but  when  her  face  lit  up  she  had  as 
pleasant  a  smile  upon  it  as  one  would  wish  to  see  by  one's 
fireside,  and  not  even  her  dialect  could  make  her  voice  otherwise 
than  low  and  gentle. 

Both  her  brothers  had  been  considerably  younger  than  herself; 
and  possibly  the  fact  of  having  stood  in  loco  parentis  to  them 
for  upwards  of  two  years  had  imparted  to  her  the  air  of 
motherliness  she  possessed.  Certain  it  is  that  if  a  child  in  the 
yard  scalded  itself,  or  cut  a  finger,  or  knocked  the  bark  off  an 
angular  limb,  it  went  crying  to  Bessy  Clegg  in  preference  to  its  own 
mother  ;  and  she  healed  bruises  and  quarrels  with  the  same  balsam — 
loving  sympathy.  She  was  just  the  one  to  open  her  arms  and 
heart  to  a  poor  motherless  babe,  and  Simon  Clegg  knew  it. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  13 

Old  Simon,  or  old  Clegg,  he  was  called,  probably  because  he 
was  graver  and  more  serious  than  his  fellows,  and  had  never 
changed  his  master  since  he  grew  to  manhood ;  certainly  not 
on  account  of  his  age,  which  trembled  on  the  verge  of  fifty, 
only.  He  was  a  short,  somewhat  spare  man,  with  a  face  deeply 
lined  by  sorrow  for  the  loved  ones  he  had  lost.  But  he  had 
a  merry  twinkling  eye,  and  was  not  without  a  latent  vein  of 
humour.  The  atmosphere  of  the  tannery  might  have  shrivelled 
his  skin,  but  it  had  not  withered  his  heart ;  and  when  he 
handed  the  child  he  had  saved  to  his  daughter,  he  never 
stopped  to  calculate  contingencies. 

The  boy,  apparently  between  two  and  three  months'  old,  was 
dressed  in  a  long  gown  of  printed  linen,  had  a  muslin  cap,  and 
an  under  one  of  flannel,  all  neatly  made,  but  neither  in  make 
nor  material  beyond  those  of  a  respectable  working-man's  child ; 
and  there  was  not  a  mark  upon  anything  which  could  give  a 
clue  to  its  parentage. 

The  painted  wooden  cradle,  which  had  been  to  it  an  ark  of 
safety,  was  placed  in  a  corner  by  the  fireplace ;  and  an  old 
bottle,  filled  with  thin  gruel,  over  the  neck  of  which  Bess  had 
tied  a  loose  cap  of  punctured  wash-leather,  was  so  adjusted  that 
the  little  one,  deprived  of  its  mother,  could  lie  within  and  feed 
itself  whilst  Bess  industriously  pursued  her  avocations. 

These  were  not  times  for  idleness.  There  had  been  bread 
riots  the  previous  winter ;  food  still  was  at  famine  prices ;  and 
it  was  all  a  poor  man  could  do,  with  the  strictest  industry  and 
economy,  to  obtain  a  bare  subsistence.  So  Bess  worked  away 
all  the  harder,  because  there  were  times  when  babydom  was 
imperative,  and  would  be  nursed. 

She  had  put  the  last  garnishing  touches  to  her  kitchen  on 
Saturday  night,  had  taken  off  her  wrapper-brat,*  put  on  a  clean 

*  A  sort  of  close  pinafore. 


14  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

blue  bedgown,*  and  substituted  a  white  linen  cap  for  the 
coloured  kerchief,  when  her  father,  who  had  been  to  New 
Cross  Market  to  make  his  bargains  by  himself  on  this  occasion, 
came  into  the  kitchen,  followed  by  Cooper,  who  having  helped 
to  save  the  child,  naturally  felt  an  interest  in  him. 

The  iron  porridge-pot  was  on  the  low  fire,  and  Bess,  sifting  the 
oatmeal  into  the  boiling  water  with  the  left  hand,  whilst  with 
the  other  she  beat  it  swiftly  with  her  porridge-stick,  was  so  intent 
on  the  preparation  of  their  supper,  she  did  not  notice  their  entrance 
until  her  father,  putting  his  coarse  wicker  market-basket  down  on 
her  white  table,  bade  Cooper  "  Coom  in  an'  tak'  a  cheer." 

Instead  of  taking  a  chair,  the  man  walked  as  quietly  as  his 
clogs  would  let  him  to  the  cradle,  and  looked  down  on  the 
infant  sucking  vigorously  at  the  delusive  bottle.  Matt  Cooper 
was  the  wwhappy  father  of  eight,  whose  maintenance  was  a  sore 
perplexity  to  him ;  and  it  may  be  supposed  he  spoke  with 
authority  when  he  exclaimed — 

"Whoy,  he  tak's  t'  th'  pap-bottle  as  nat'rally  as  if  he'n  ne'er 
had  nowt  else  !  " 

And  the  big  man — quite  a  contrast  to  Simon — stooped  and 
lifted  the  babe  from  the  cradle  with  all  the  ease  of  long  practice, 
and  dandled  it  in  his  arms,  saying  as  he  did  so, 

"Let's  hev  a  look  at  th'  little  chap.  Aw've  not  seen  the 
colour  o'  his  eyen  yet." 

The  eyes  were  grey,  so  dark  they  might  have  passed  for 
black;  and  there  was  in  them  more  than  the  ordinary  inquiring 
gaze  of  babyhood. 

"  Well,  thah'rt  a  pratty  lad ;  but  had  thah  bin  th'  fowestf 
i'  o'  Lankisheer,  aw'd  a-thowt  thi  mammy'd  ha'  speeredj  fur 
thi  afore  this,"  added  he,  sitting  down,  and  nodding  to  the  child, 
which  crowed  in  his  face. 

*  A  short  loose  jacket.        f  Ugliest.        %  Inquired, 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  15 

"  Ah !  one  would  ha*  reckoned  so,"  assented  Bess,  without 
turning  round. 

"What  ar"  ta  gooin'  to  do,  Simon,  toward  fandin'  th'  choilt's 
kin  ? "  next  questioned  their  visitor. 

Simon   looked   puzzled. 

"Whoy,   aw've   hardly  gi'en   it   a   thowt." 

But  the  question,  once  started,  was  discussed  at  some  length. 
Meanwhile  the  porridge  destined  for  two  Bess  poured  into  three 
bowls,  placing  three  iron  spoons  beside  them  with  no  more 
ceremony  than,  "Ye'll  tak'  a  sup  wi'  us,  Mat." 

Mat  apologised,  feeling  quite  assured  there  was  no  more  than 
the  two  could  have  eaten ;  but  Simon  looked  hurt,  and  the 
porridge  was  appetising  to  a  hungry  man ;  so  he  handed  the 
baby  to  the  young  woman,  took  up  his  spoon,  and  the  broken 
thread  of  conversation  was  renewed  at  intervals.  What  they 
said  matters  not  so  much  as  what  they  did. 

The  next  morning  being  Sunday,  Cooper  called  for  Clegg 
just  as  the  bells  were  ringing  for  church  ;  and  the  two,  arrayed 
in  their  best  fustian  breeches,  long-tailed,  deep-cuffed  coats, 
knitted  hose,  three-cornered  hats,  and  shoes,  only  kept  for 
Sunday  wear,  set  out  to  seek  the  parents  of  the  unclaimed 
infant,  nothing  doubting  that  they  were  going  to  carry  solace  to 
sorrowing  hearts. 

Their  course  lay  in  the  same  track  as  the  Irk,  now  pursuing 
its  course  as  smilingly  under  the  bright  August  sun  as  though 
its  banks  were  not  strewed  with  wreck,  and  foul  with  thick 
offensive  mud,  and  the  woeful  devastations  were  none  of  its 
doing.  There  were  fewer  houses  on  their  route  than  now,  and 
they  kept  closely  as  possible  to  the  course  of  the  river,  questioning 
the  various  inhabitants  as  they  went  along.  They  had  gone 
through  Collyhurst  and  Blakely  without  rousing  anyone  to  a 
thought  beyond  self-sustained  damage,  or  gaining  a  single  item 


i6  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

of  intelligence,  though  they  made  many  a  detour  in  quest  of  it. 
At  a  roadside  public-house  close  to  Middleton  they  sat  down 
parched  with  heat  and  thirst,  called  for  a  mug  of  ale  each,  drew 
from  their  pockets  thick  hunks  of  brown  bread  and  cheese, 
wrapped  in  blue  and  white  check  handkerchiefs,  and  whilst 
satisfying  their  hunger  came  to  the  conclusion  that  no  cradle 
could  have  drifted  safely  so  far,  crossing  weirs  and  mill  dams, 
amongst  uprooted  bushes,  timber,  and  household  chattels,  and 
that  it  was  best  to  turn  back. 

In  Smedley  Vale,  where  the  flood  seemed  to  have  done  its 
worst,  and  where  a  small  cottage  close  to  the  river  lay  in  ruins, 
a  knot  of  people  were  gathered  together  talking  and  gesticulating 
as  if  in  eager  controversy.  As  they  approached,  they  were 
spied  by  one  of  the  group. 

"  Here  are  th'  chaps  as  fund  th'  babby,  an'  want'n  to  know 
who  it  belungs  to,"  cried  he,  a  youth  whom  they  had  interrogated 
early  in  the  day. 

To  tell  in  brief  what  Simon  and  his  companion  learned  by 
slow  degrees — the  hapless  child  was  alone  in  the  world,  orphaned 
by  a  succession  of  misfortunes.  The  dilapidated  cottage  had 
been  for  some  fifteen  months  the  home  of  its  parents.  The 
father,  who  was  understood  to  have  come  from  Crumpsall  with 
his  young  wife  and  her  aged  mother,  had  been  summoned  to 
attend  the  death-bed  of  a  brother  in  Liverpool,  and  had  never 
been  heard  of  since.  The  alarm  and  trouble  consequent  upon 
his  prolonged  absence  prostrated  the  young  wife,  and  caused  not 
only  the  babe's  premature  birth,  but  the  mother's  death.  The 
care  of  the  child  had  devolved  upon  the  stricken  grandmother, 
who  had  brought  him  up  by  hand,  as  Matthew's  sagacity  had 
suggested.  She  was  a  woman  far  advanced  in  years,  and  feeble, 
but  she  asked  no  help  from  neighbours  or  parish,  though  her 
poverty  was  apparent.  She  kept  poultry  and  knitted  stockings, 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  17 

and  managed  to  eke  out  a  living  somehow,  but  how,  none  of 
those  scattered  neighbours  seemed  to  know — she  had  "  held  her 
yead  so  hoigh "  (pursued  her  way  so  quietly). 

She  had  been  out  in  her  garden  feeding  her  fowls  when  the 
flood  came  upon  them  without  warning,  swept  through  the  open 
doors  of  the  cottage,  and  carried  cradle  and  everything  else 
before  it,  leaving  hardly  a  wall  standing.  In  endeavouring  to 
save  the  child  she  herself  got  seriously  hurt,  and  was  with 
difficulty  rescued.  But  between  grief  and  fright,  bruises  and  the 
drenching,  the  old  dame  succumbed,  and  died  on  the  Thursday 
morning,  and  had  been  buried  by  the  parish — from  which  in  life 
she  had  proudly  kept  aloof — that  very  afternoon,  and  no  one 
could  tell  other  name  she  had  borne  than  Nan. 

Bess  sobbed  aloud  when  she  heard  her  father's  recital,  which 
lost  nothing  of  its  pathos  from  the  homely  vernacular  in  which 
it  was  couched. 

"  An'  what's  to  be  done  neaw  ?"  asked  Cooper,  as  he  sat  on 
one  of  the  rush-bottomed  chairs,  sucking  the  knob  of  his  walking 
stick,  as  if  for  an  inspiration.  "Yo  canno'  think  o'  keeping  th' 
choilt,  an'  bread  an'  meal  at  sich  a  proice ! " 

"  Connot  oi  ?  Then  aw  conno'  think  o1  aught  else.  Wouldst 
ha'  me  chuck  it  i'  th'  river  agen  ?  What  does  thah  say,  Bess?" 
turning  to  his  daughter,  who  had  the  child  on  her  lap. 

"Whoi,  th'  poor  little  lad's  got  noather  feyther  nor  mother, 
an'  thah's  lost  boath  o'  thi  lads.  Mebbe  it's  a  Godsend,  feyther, 
after  o',  as  yo  said'n  to  me,"  and  she  kissed  it  tenderly. 

"Eh,  wench!"  interposed  Matthew,  but  she  went  on  without 
heeding  him. 

"  There's  babby  clooas  laid  by  i'  lavender  i'  thoase  drawers 
as  hasna  seen  dayleet  sin  ar  Joe  wur  a  toddler,  an'  they'll  just 
come  handy.  An'  if  bread's  dear,  an'  meal's  dear,  we  mun  just 
ate  less  on  it  arsels,  an'  there'll  be  moore  fur  the  choilt.  He'll 


i8  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

pay  yo  back,  feyther,  aw  know,  when  yo're  too  owd  to 
wark." 

"  An'  aw  con  do  'bout  'bacca,  lass.  If  the  orphan's  granny 
wur  too  preawd  to  ax  help  o'  th'  parish,  aw'll  be  too  preawd  to 
send  her  pratty  grandchoilt  theer." 

And  so,  to  Matthew  Cooper's  amazement,  it  was  settled.  But 
the  extra  labour  and  self-denial  it  involved  on  the  part  of  Bess, 
neither  Matthew  nor  Simon  could  estimate. 

In  the  midst  of  the  rabid  scepticism  and  Republicanism  of 
the  period,  Simon  Clegg  was  a  staunch  "  Church  and  King " 
man,  and,  as  a  natural  consequence,  a  stout  upholder  of  their 
ordinances.  Regularly  as  the  bell  tolled  in  for  Sunday  morning 
service,  he  might  be  seen  walking  reverently  down  the  aisle  of 
the  old  church,  to  his  place  in  the  free  seats,  with  his  neat, 
cheerful-looking  daughter  following  him  sometimes,  but  not  always 
— so  regularly  that  the  stout  beadle  missed  him  from  his  seat 
the  Sunday  after  the  inundation,  and  meeting  him  in  the 
churchyard  a  week  later,  sought  to  learn  the  why  and  wherefore. 

The  beadle  of  the  parish  church  was  an  important  personage 
in  the  eyes  of  Simon  Clegg ;  and,  somewhat  proud  of  his  notice, 
the  little  tanner  related  the  incidents  of  that  memorable  flood-week 
to  his  querist,  concluding  with  his  adoption  of  the  child. 

The  official  h'md  and  ha'd,  applauded  the  act,  but  shook  his 
powdered  head,  and  added,  sagely,  that  it  was  a  "greeat  charge, 
a  varry  greeat  charge." 

"  Dun  yo'  think  th'  little  un's  bin  babtised  ? "  interrogated 
the  beadle. 

"Aw  conno*  tell;  nob'dy  couldn't  tell  nowt  abeawt  th'  choilt, 
'ut  wur  ony  use  to  onybody.  Bess  an'  me  han  talked  it  ower, 
an'  we  wur  thinkin'  o'  bringin'  it  to  be  kirsened,  to  be  on  th' 
safe  soide  loike.  Aw  reckon  it  wouldna  do  th'  choilt  ony  harm 
to  be  kirsened  twoice  ower ;  an'  'twoud  be  loike  flingin'  th' 


I 


THE    OLD    CHURCH,    FROM    NORTH-EAST. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  19 

choilt's  soul  to  Owd  Scrat  gin  he  wur  no  kirsened  at  o'.     What 
dun   yo'  thinken'?" 

The  beadle  thought  pretty  much  the  same  as  Simon,  and  it 
was  finally  arranged  that  Simon  should  present  the  young 
foundling  for  baptism  in  the  course  of  the  week. 


CHAPTER    THE    THIRD.* 

HOW  THE  REV.  JOSHUA  BROOKES  AND  SIMON  CLEGG   INTERPRETED 
A  SHAKESPERIAN   TEXT. 


Q 


ANCHESTER  had  at  that  date  two  eccentric 
clergymen  attached  to  the  Collegiate  Church.  The 
one,  Parson  Gatliffe,  a  fine  man,  a  polished  gentleman, 

«  W 

an  eloquent  preacher,  but  a  bon  vivant  of  whom 
many  odd  stories  are  told.  The  other,  the  Reverend  Joshua 
Brookes,  a  short,  stumpy  man  (so  like  to  the  old  knave  of  clubs 
in  mourning  that  the  sobriquet  of  the  "  Knave  of  Clubs "  stuck 
to  him),  was  a  rough,  crusted,  unpolished  black-diamond,  hasty 
in  temper,  harsh  in  tone,  blunt  in  speech  and  in  the  pulpit,  but 
with  a  true  heart  beating  under  the  angular  external  crystals  ; 
and  he  was  a  good  liver  of  another  sort  than  his  colleague. 

He  was  the  son  of  a  crippled  and  not  too  sober  shoemaker, 
who,  when  the  boy's  intense  desire  for  learning  had  attracted 
the  attention  and  patronage  of  Parson  Ainscough,  went  to  the 
homes  of  several  of  the  wealthy  denizens  of  the  town,  to  ask 
for  pecuniary  aid  to  send  his  son  Joshua  to  college.  The 
youth's  scholarly  attainments  had  already  obtained  him  an 
exhibition  at  the  Free  Grammar  School,  which,  coupled  with  the 
donations  obtained  by  his  father  and  the  helping  hand  of  Parson 
Ainscough,  enabled  him  to  keep  his  terms  and  to  graduate  at 
Brazenose,  to  become  a  master  in  the  grammar  school  in  which 
he  had  been  taught,  and  a  chaplain  in  the  Collegiate  Church. 

*  See  Appendix. 


REV.    JOSHUA    BROOKES,    M.A. 
Front  a    Woodbury-tvpe   Photograph   by  Brothers. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  21 

So  conscientious  was  he  in  the  performance  of  his  sacred 
duties  that,  albeit  he  was  wont  to  exercise  his  calling  after  a 
peculiarly  rough  fashion  of  his  own,  he  married,  christened, 
buried  more  people  during  his  ministry  than  all  the  other 
ecclesiastics  put  together. 

It  was  to  this  Joshua  Brookes  (few  ever  thought  of  prefixing 
the  "  Reverend "  in  referring  to  him)  that  Simon  Clegg  brought 
"  Nan's "  orphan  grandchild  to  be  baptised  on  Tuesday,  the  yth 
of  September,  just  three  weeks  from  the  date  of  his  involuntary 
voyage  down  the  flooded  Irk. 

It  had  taken  the  tanner  the  whole  of  the  week  following  his 
conversation  with  the  beadle  to  determine  the  name  he  should 
give  the  child,  and  many  had  been  his  consultations  with  Bess  on 
the  subject.  That  very  Sunday  he  had  gone  home  from  church 
full  of  the  matter,  and  lifting  his  big  old  Bible  from  its  post 
of  honour  on  the  top  of  the  bureau  (it  was  his  whole  library), 
he  sat,  after  dinner,  with  his  head  in  his  hands  and  his  elbows 
on  the  table,  debating  the  momentous  question. 

"  Yo'  see,  Bess,"  said  he,  "  a  neame  as  sticks  to  one  all  one's 
loife,  is  noan  so  sma'  a  matter  as  some  folk  reckon.  An'  yon's 
noan  a  common  choilt.  It  is  na  every  day,  no,  nor  every  year, 
that  a  choilt  is  weshed  down  a  river  in  a  kayther,  and  saved 
from  th'  very  jaws  of  deeath.  An'  aw'd  loike  to  gi'e  un  a 
neame  as  'ud  mak'  it  remember  it,  an'  thenk  God  for  his 
mercifu'  preservation  a'  th'  days  o'  his  loife." 

After  a  long  pause,  during  which  Bess  took  the  baby  from 
the  cradle,  tucked  a  napkin  under  its  chin,  and  began  to  feed  it 
with  a  spoon,  he  resumed — 

"  Yo'  see,  Bess,  hadna  aw  bin  kirsened  Simon,  aw  moight  ha' 
bin  a  cobbler,  or  a  whitster,-f*  or  a  wayver,  or  owt  else.  But 
feyther  could  read  tho'  he  couldna  wroite ;  an'  as  he  wur  a 

t  Bleacher. 


22  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

reed-makker,  he  towt  mi  moi  A  B  C  wi'  crookin'  up  th1  bits 
o'  wires  he  couldna  use  into  th'  shaps  o'  th'  letters  ;  an'  when 
aw  could  spell  sma'  words  gradely*,  he  towt  me  to  read  out  o' 
this  varry  book ;  an  aw  read  o'  Simon,  a  tanner,  an*  nowt  'ud 
sarve  mi  but  aw  mun  be  a  tanner  too;  so  tha  sees  theer's 
summat  i'  a  neame  after  o'." 

Bess  suggested  that  he  should  be  called  Noah,  because  Noah 
was  saved  in  the  ark ;  but  he  objected  that  Noah  was  an  old 
greybeard,  with  a  family,  and  that  he  knew  the  flood  was 
coming,  and  built  the  ark  himself;  he  was  "not  takken  unawares 
in  his  helplessness  loike  that  poor  babby." 

Moses  was  her  next  proposition — Bess  had  learned  something 
of  Biblical  lore  at  the  first  Sunday  school  Manchester  could 
boast,  the  one  in  Gun  Street,  founded  by  Simeon  Newton  in 
1788 — but  Simon  was  not  satisfied  even  with  Moses. 

"Yo'  see,  Moses  wur  put  in'  th'  ark  o'  bulrushes  o'  purpose, 
an'  noather  thee  nor  mi's  a  Pharaoh's  dowter,  an'  th'  little  chap's 
not  loike  to  be  browt  oop  i*  a  pallis." 

Towards  the  end  of  the  week  he  burst  into  the  room  ;  "  Oi 
hev  it,  lass,  oi  hev  it !  We'n  co'  the  lad  '  Irk ';  nob'dy'll  hev 
a  neame  loike  that,  an'  it'll  tell  its  own  story ;  an'  fur  th' 
afterneame,  aw  reckon  he  mun  tak'  ours." 

Marriages  were  solemnized  in  the  richly-carved  choir  of  the 
venerable  old  Church,  but  churchings  and  baptisms  in  a  large 
adjoining  chapel ;  and  thither  Bess,  who  carried  the  baby,  was 
ushered,  followed  by  Simon  and  Matt  Cooper,  who  were  to  act 
as  its  other  sponsors. 

At  the  door  they  made  way  for  the  entrance  of  a  party  of 
ladies,  whom  they  had  seen  alight  from  sedan-chairs  at  the  upper 
gate,  where  a  couple  of  gentlemen  joined  them.  A  nurse 
followed,  with  a  baby,  whose  christening  robe,  nearly  two  yards 

*  Properly. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  23 

long,  was  a  mass  of  rich  embroidery.  The  mother  herself, — 
a  slight,  lovely  creature,  additionally  pale  and  delicate  from  her 
late  ordeal — wore  a  long,  plain-skirted  dress  of  vari-coloured 
brocaded  silk.  A  lustrous  silk  scarf,  trimmed  with  costly  lace, 
enveloped  her  shoulders.  Her  head-dress,  a  bonnet  with  a  bag- 
crown  and  Quakerish  poke-brim,  was  of  the  newest  fashion,  as 
were  the  long  kid  gloves  which  covered  her  arms  to  the  elbows. 

The  party  stepped  forward  as  though  precedence  was  theirs 
of  right  even  at  the  church  door,  heeding  not  Simon's  mannerly 
withdrawal  to  let  them  pass ;  and  the  very  nurse  looked 
disdainfully  at  the  calico  gown  of  the  baby  in  the  round  arms 
of  Bess,  a  woman  in  a  grey  duffle  cloak  and  old-fashioned  flat, 
broad-brimmed  hat,  tied  down  over  the  ears. 

Is  there  any  thrill,  sympathetic  or  antagonistic,  in  baby-veins, 
as  they  thus  meet  there  for  the  first  time  on  their  entrance  into 
the  church  and  the  broad  path  of  life?  For  the  first  time — 
but  scarcely  for  the  last. 

Already  a  goodly  crowd  of  mothers,  babies,  godfathers  and 
godmothers  had  assembled — a  crowd  of  all  grades,  judging  from 
their  exteriors,  for  dress  had  not  then  ceased  to  be  a  criterion  ; 
and  all  ceremonies  of  this  kind  were  performed  in  shoals — not  singly. 

The  Rev.  Joshua  Brookes,  followed  by  his  clerk,  came 
through  the  door  in  the  carven  screen,  between  the  choir  and 
baptismal  chapel,  and  took  his  place  behind  the  altar  rails. 
And  now  ensued  a  scene  which  some  of  my  readers  may  think 
incredible,  but  which  was  common  enough  then,  and  there, 
and  is  notoriously  true.  The  width  of  the  altar  could  scarcely 
accommodate  the  number  of  women  waiting  to  be  churched ; 
and  the  impatient  Joshua  assisted  the  apparitors  to  marshal 
them  to  their  places,  with  a  sharp  "  You  come  here  !  You  kneel 
there  1  Yon  woman's  not  paid  ! "  accompanied  by  pulls  and 
pushes,  until  the  semi-circle  was  filled. 


24  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

But  still  the  shrinking  lady,  and  another,  unused  to  jostle 
with  rough  crowds,  were  left  standing  outside  the  pale. 

Impetuous  Joshua  had  begun  the  service  before  all  were 
settled.  "  Forasmuch  as  it  hath  pleased " 

His  quick  eye  caught  the  outstanding  figures.  Abruptly 
stopping  his  exordium,  he  exclaimed,  in  his  harsh  tones,  which 
seemed  to  intimidate  the  lady, 

"  What  are  you  standing  there  for  ?  Can't  you  find  a  place  ? 
Make  room  here  !  "  (pushing  two  women  apart  by  the  shoulder), 
"  thrutch  up  closer  there  !  Make  haste,  and  kneel  here  !  "  (to 
the  lady,  pulling  her  forward).  "  You  come  here  ;  make  room, 
will  you  ?  "  and  having  pulled  and  pushed  them  into  place,  he 
resumed  the  service. 

Presently  there  was  another  outburst.  There  had  been  a 
hushing  of  whimpering  babies,  and  a  maternal  smothering  of 
infantile  cries,  as  a  chorus  throughout  ;  but  one  fractious  little 
one  screamed  right  out,  and  refused  to  be  comforted.  The 
nervous  tremor  on  that  kneeling  lady's  countenance  might  have 
told  to  whom  it  belonged,  had  Joshua  been  a  skilful  reader  of 
hearts  and  faces.  His  irritable  temper  got  the  better  of  him. 
He  broke  off  in  the  midst  of  the  psalm  to  call  out,  "  Stop  that 
crying  child  ! "  The  crying  child  did  not  stop.  In  the  midst 
of  another  verse  he  bawled,  "  Give  that  screaming  babby  the 
breast  !  "  He  went  on.  The  clerk  had  pronounced  the  "  Amen  " 
at  the  end  of  the  psalm  ;  the  chaplain  followed,  "Let  us  pray;" 
but  before  he  began  the  prayer,  he  again  shouted,  "  Take  that 
squalling  babby  out  !  " — an  order  the  indignant  nurse  precipitately 
obeyed  ;  and  the  service  ended  without  further  interruption. 

Then  followed  the  christenings,  and  another  marshalling  (this 
time  of  godfathers  and  godmothers,  with  the  infants  they 
presented),  in  which  the  hasty  chaplain  did  his  part  with  hands 
and  voice  until  all  were  arranged  to  his  satisfaction. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  25 

It  so  happened  that  the  tanner's  group  and  the  lady's  group  were 
ranked  side  by  side.  The  latter  was  Mrs.  Aspinall,  the  wife  of  a 
wealthy  cotton  merchant,  who,  with  two  other  gentlemen  and  a  lady, 
stood  behind  her,  and  this  time  gave  her  their  much-needed  support. 
Indeed,  what  with  the  damp  and  chillness  of  the  church,  and 
the  agitation,  the  delicate  lady  appeared  ready  to  faint. 

"  Hath  this  child  been  already  baptized  or  no  ?  "  asked 
Joshua  Brookes,  and  was  passing  on,  when  Simon's  unexpected 
response  arrested  him. 

"  Aw   dunnot   know." 

"  Don't  know  ?  How's  that  ?  What  are  you  here  for  ? " 
were  questions  huddled  one  on  the  other,  in  a  broader  vernacular 
than  I  have  thought  well  to  put  in  the  mouth  of  a  man  so 
deeply  learned. 

"  Whoi,  yo'  see,  this  is  the  choilt  as  wur  weshed  deawn  th' 
river  wi'  th'  flood  in  a  kayther  ;  an'  o'  belungin'  th'  lad  are 
deead,  an'  aw  mun  kirsen  him  to  mak'  o'  sure." 

Joshua  listened  with  more  patience  than  might  have  been 
expected  from  him,  and  passed  on  with  a  mere  "  Humph  ! "  to 
ask  the  same  question  from  each  in  succession  before  proceeding 
with  the  general  service.  At  length  he  came  to  the  naming  of 
several  infants. 

"  Henrietta  Burdelia  Fitzbourne  "  was  given  as  the  proposed 
name  of  a  girl  of  middle-class  parents. 

"  Mary,  I  baptise  thee,"  &c.,  he  calmly  proceeded,  handed 
the  baby  back  to  the  astonished  godmother,  and  passed  to  the 
next,  regardless  of  appeal. 

Mrs.  Aspinall's  boy  took  his  name  of  Laurence  with  a  noisy 
protest  against  the  sprinkling.  Nor  was  the  foundling  silent 
when,  having  been  duly  informed  that  the  boy's  name  was  to 
be  "  Irk?  self-willed  Joshua  deliberately,  and  with  scarcely  a 
visible  pause,  went  on — 


26  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

"Jabez,  I  baptise  thee  in  the  name,"  &c.,  and  so  overturned, 
at  one  fell  swoop,  all  Simon's  carefully-constructed  castle. 

Simon  attempted  to  remonstrate,  but  Joshua  Brookes  had 
another  infant  in  his  arms,  and  was  deaf  to  all  but  his  own 
business.  Such  a  substitution  of  names  was  too  common  a 
practice  of  his  to  disturb  him  in  the  least  But  Simon  had  a 
brave  spirit,  and  stood  no  more  in  awe  of  Joshua  Brookes — 
"  Jotty "  as  he  was  called — than  of  another  man.  When  the 
others  had  gone  in  a  crowd  to  the  vestry  to  register  the 
baptisms,  he  stopped  to  confront  the  parson  as  he  left  the  altar. 

"  What  roight  had  yo'  to  change  the  neame  aw  chuse  to  gi'e 
that  choilt  ?  " 

"  What  right  had  yo'  to  saddle  the  poor  lad  with  an  Irksome 
name  like  that  ?  "  was  the  quick  rejoinder. 

"  Roight !  why,  aw  wanted  to  gi'e  th'  lad  a  neame  as  should 
mak'  him  thankful  for  bein'  saved  from  dreawndin'  to  the  last 
deays  o'  his  loife." 

"  An  Irksome  name  like  that  would  have  made  him  the  butt 
of  every  little  imp  in  the  gutters,  until  he'd  have  been  ready  to 
drown  himself  to  get  rid  of  it.  Jabez  is  an  honourable  name, 
man.  You  go  home,  and  look  through  your  Bible  till  you  find 
it." 

Simon  was  open  to  conviction  ;  his  bright  eyes  twinkled  as  a 
new  light  dawned  upon  them. 

The  gruff  chaplain  had  brushed  past  him  on  his  way  to  the 
robing-room  ;  but  he  turned  back,  with  his  right  hand  in  his 
breeches  pocket,  and  put  a  seven-shilling  piece  in  the  palm  of 
the  tanner,  saying : 

"  Here's  something  towards  the  christening  feast  of  th'  little 
chap  I've  stood  godfather  to.  And  don't  you  forget  to  look  in 
'  Chronicles '  for  Jabez  ;  and,  above  all,  see  that  the  lad  doesn't 
disgrace  his  name." 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  27 

Joshua  Brookes  had  the  character,  among  those  who  knew 
him  least,  of  loving  money  overmuch,  and  this  unwonted  exhibi- 
tion of  generosity  took  Simon's  breath. 

The  chaplain  was  gone  before  he  recovered  from  his  amaze- 
ment— gone,  with  a  tender  heart  softened  towards  the  father- 
less child  thrown  upon  the  world,  his  cynicism  rebuked  by  the 
true  charity  of  the  poor  tanner,  who  had  taken  the  foundling 
to  his  home  in  a  season  of  woeful  dearth. 

And,  to  his  credit  be  it  said,  the  Rev.  Joshua  Brookes  never 
lost  sight  of  either  Simon  or  little  Jabez.  He  was  wont  to 
throw  out  words  which  he  meant  to  be  in  season,  but  his  harsh, 
abrupt  manner,  as  a  rule,  neutralized  the  effect  of  his  impromptu 
teachings.  Now,  however,  the  seed  was  thrown  in  other  ground ; 
and,  as  he  intended,  Simon's  curiosity  was  excited.  The  Bible 
was  reverently  lifted  from  the  bureau  as  soon  as  they  reached 
home,  and  after  some  seeking,  the  passage  was  found. 

Simon's  reading  was  nothing  to  boast  of,  but  Cooper  could 
not  read  at  all ;  and  in  the  eyes  of  his  unlettered  comrades 
Clegg  shone  as  a  learned  man.  He  could  decipher  "black  print," 
and  that,  in  his  days,  amongst  his  class,  was  a  distinction. 
Slowly  he  traced  his  fingers  along  the  lines  for  his  own  informa- 
tion, and  then  still  more  slowly,  with  a  sort  of  rest  after  every 
word,  read  out  to  his  auditors — Bess,  Matthew,  and  Matthew's 
wife  (there  in  her  best  gown  and  best  temper) — with  slight 
dialectal  peculiarities  which  need  not  be  reproduced — 

And  Jabez  was  more  honourable  than  his  brethren:  and  his  mother  called  his 
name  Jabez,  because  she  bare  him  with  sorrow.  And  Jabez  called  on  the  God  of 
Israel,  saying,  O  that  Thou  wouldst  bless  me  indeed,  and  enlarge  my  coast,  and  that 
Thine  hand  might  be  with  me,  and  that  Thou  wouldst  keep  me  from  evil,  that  it 
may  not  grieve  me  1  And  God  granted  him  that  which  he  requested.* 

"  Eh,  Simon,  mon,  owd  Jotty  wur  woiser  nor  thee.  Theer's 
a  neame  for  a  lad  to  stand  by!  It's  as  good  as  a  leeapin'- 

*  I  Chron.  iv.  9,  10. 


28  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

pow'*   that   it  is,   t'   help   him  ower  th'  brucksf  and  rucks J  o'  th' 
warld." 

Simon  sat  lost  in  thought  At  length  he  raised  his  head, 
and  remarked  soberly — 

"  Parson  Brookes  moight  ha'  bin  a  prophet ;  th'  choilt's  mother 
did  bear  him  wi'  sorrow.  The  neame  fits  th'  lad  as  if  it  had 
bin  meade  for  him." 

"Then  aw  hope  he's  a  prophet  o'  eawt,  feyther,  an'  o'  th' 
rest'll  come  true  in  toime,"  briskly  interjected  Bess  ;  adding — 
"Coom,  tay's  ready;"  further  appending  for  the  information  of 
their  visitors — "Madam  Clough  sent  the  tay  an'  sugar,  an'  th' 
big  curran'-loaf,  when  hoo  heeard  as  feyther  had  axed  for  a 
holiday  fur  the  kirsenin' ;  an'  Mester  dough's  sent  some  yale 
[ale],  an'  a  thumpin'  piece  o'  beef." 

"  Ay,  lass ;  an'  as  we'en  a'ready  a  foine  kirsenin'  feast,  we'en 
no  change  parson's  seven-shillin'  piece,  but  lay  it  oop  fur  th' 
lad  hissen." 

But  the  christening  feast  did  not  proceed  without  sundry 
noisy  demonstrations  from  Master  Jabez.  If,  as  Simon  had  once 
hinted,  he  was  an  angel  in  the  house,  he  flapped  his  wings 
and  blew  his  trumpet  pretty  noisily  at  times. 

"  Eh,  lass,  aw  wish  Turn  wur  here  neaw,  to  enjoy  hisself  wi' 
us.  Aw  wonder  what  he'd  say  to  yo'  nursin'  a  babby  so  bonnily?" 

Simon  was  munching  a  huge  piece  of  currant-cake  as  he 
uttered  this,  after  a  meditative  pause.  A  look  of  pain  passed 
over  Bess's  face.  She  rarely  mentioned  the  absent  Tom,  though 
he  was  seldom  out  of  her  thoughts. 

"  Yea,  an'  aw  wish  he  wur  here ! "  she  echoed  with  a  sigh, 
the  fountain  of  which  was  deep  in  her  own  breast.  "Aw  wonder 
where  he  is  neaw." 

"  Feightin,'  mebbe  ! "    suggested  her  father. 

*  Leaping-pole.  f  Brooks.  $  Heaps— impediments. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  29 

"  Killed,  mebbe !"  was  the  fearful  suggestion  of  her  own  heart, 
and  she  was  silent  for  some  time  afterwards. 

But  the  feast  proceeded  merrily  for  all  that,  and  no  wonder 
where  Charity  was  president.  And  there  was  quite  as  happy 
a  party  under  that  humble  roof  in  Skinners'  Yard  as  that 
assembled  in  the  grand  house  at  Ardwick,  where  Master  Laurence 
Aspinall  was  handed  about  in  his  embroidered  robes  for  the 
inspection  of  guests  who  cared  very  little  about  him,  although 
they  did  present  him  with  silver  mugs,  and  spoons,  and  corals, 
and  protest  to  his  pale  and  exhausted  mamma  that  he  was  the 
finest  infant  in  Manchester. 


CHAPTER    THE    FOURTH. 


MISCHIEF. 


T  was  a  time  of  distress  at 
home  and  war  abroad.  Glory's 
scarlet  fever  was  as  rife  an 
epidemic  in  Manchester  as 
elsewhere.  The  town  bristled 
with  bayonets  ;  corps  of 
volunteers  in  showy  uniforms, 
on  parade  or  exercise,  with 
banners  flying,  dotted  it  like 
spots  on  a  peacock's  tail ;  the 
music  of  drum  and  fife 
drowned  the  murmurs  of 
discontented  men,  the  groans 
of  poverty-stricken  women, 
and  the  cries  of  famishing 
children.  All  nostrums  were  prescribed  for  the  evils  of  famine 
except  a  stoppage  of  the  war.  The  rich  made  sacrifices  for  the 
poor;  pastry  was  banished  by  common  consent  from  the  tables 
of  the  wealthy  in  order  to  cheapen  flour ;  soup-kitchens  were 
established  for  the  poor,  and  in  the  midst  of  the  general  dearth 
the  nineteenth  century  struggled  into  existence. 

It   was    this    war-fever    which    had    carried    off    Bessy    Clegg's 
sweetheart,  Thomas  Hulme,  to  Ireland,  in  Lord  Wilton's  Regiment 


'  SEVEN  STARS' — INTERIOR. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  31 

of  Lancashire  Volunteers,  three  years  before.  The  honest,  true- 
hearted  fellow  could  not  write  for  himself,  postage  was  expensive 
and  uncertain,  and  in  all  those  three  years  only  two  letters, 
written  by  a  comrade,  had  reached  the  girl.  To  her  simple, 
uninformed  mind,  Ireland  was  as  foreign  and  distant  a  country 
as  Australia  is  to  us  in  these  days.  And  to  be  stationed  there 
with  his  regiment  amongst  those  "wild  Irishmen,"  conveyed  only 
the  idea  of  battles  and  bloodshed.  Yet  she  kept  a  brave  heart 
on  the  matter,  and  hid  her  anxieties  from  her  father  as  well  as 
she  was  able.  In  some  respects  little  Jabez  was  a  Godsend  to 
her.  The  frequent  attention  he  required,  combined  with  her 
labours  at  the  batting-frame  and  her  household  duties,  tended 
to  distract  her  mind  from  the  dark  picture  over  which  she  was 
so  much  inclined  to  brood,  and  to  make  her,  if  anything,  more 
cheerful.  Once  more  the  voice  which  had  been  silent  tuned  up 
in  song,  for  the  gratification  of  the  youngster,  and  in  amusing 
him  she  insensibly  cheered  and  refreshed  herself. 

Yet,  as  she  trilled  her  quaint  ballads,  or  Sabbath-school 
hymns,  she  little  thought  her  vocalization  was  to  furnish  an 
envious  mind  with  a  shaft  to  wound  herself,  and  the  one  of  all 
others  dearer  than  herself. 

Soon  after  the  memorable  christening  feast,  Matthew  Cooper 
and  his  family  had  removed— or  "flitted,"  as  they  called  it — 
from  Barlow's  Yard  to  Skinners'  Yard  ;  and  Sally,  that  peaceable 
man's  termagant  wife,  was  not  the  most  desirable  of  neighbours. 
The  tea,  and  the  currant-cake,  and  the  beef,  on  that  unusually 
well-spread  board,  had  filled  her  with  pleasure  for  the  time,  but 
turned  to  gall  and  bitterness  ere  they  were  digested.  Why 
should  the  Cleggs  be  so  high  in  the  favour  of  Mr.  and  Madam 
Clough,  and  her  Matt  get  nothing  better  than  half-a-crown-piece  ? 
He'd  quite  as  much  to  do  in  saving  the  brat's  life  as  Simon 
had,  and,  with  such  a  family,  wanted  it  a  fine  sight  more.  So 


32  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

she  argued  and  argued  with  herself,  quite  ignoring,  or  blind  to 
the  fact  that  it  was  not  the  mere  impulse  which  saved,  but  the 
humanity  which  kept  the  babe,  that  Mr.  Clough  recognized,  and 
never  lost  sight  of. 

As  Simon  grew  in  favour  at  the  tannery,  the  more  excited 
grew  Sally  Cooper,  until  nothing  would  do  but  a  removal  to 
the  opposite  yard,  where  she  could  see  for  herself  the  "  gooin's 
on  o'  them  Cleggs ; "  and  once  there,  she  contrived  to  harass 
Bess  by  numberless  little  spiteful  acts,  as  well  as  by  her 
vituperative  tongue. 

Nor  did  little  Jabez  himself  escape.  Parson  Brookes,  grumbling 
loudly  at  every  downward  step,  found  his  way  to  Bess  o'  Sim's, 
guided  by  the  quick-swishing,  regular  beat  of  the  batting-wands. 

Mrs.  Clough  having,  by  ocular  demonstration,  satisfied  herself 
that  Bess  was  a  sufficiently  notable  house-wife  and  a  kindly 
nurse,  had  replaced  the  worn  out  long-clothes  which  Jabez 
inherited  from  "  brother  Joe,"  by  a  set  of  more  serviceable  and 
suitable  short  ones ;  had,  moreover,  sent  an  embrocation  to  allay 
Simon's  rheumatic  pains,  and  to  crown  the  whole,  supplied  a 
go-cart  for  the  boy,  to  help  him  to  walk,  and  yet  leave  the 
hands  of  industrious  Bess  at  liberty. 

As  Miss  Jewsbury  has  said,  in  her  exquisite  story  of  "The 
Rivals,"  that  go-cart  "was  the  drop  added  to  the  brimming  cup, 
the  touch  given  to  the  falling  column." 

Matt's  worse-half — an  inveterately  clean  woman,  be  it  said — 
was  occupied  with  her  Saturday's  "  redding  up,"  when  she  saw 
the  wood-turner  carry  it  in ;  and  she  thereupon  trundled  her 
mop  at  the  door  so  vigorously  and  viciously,  that  the  children 
instinctively  shrank  into  corners,  or  ran  out  of  the  yard  altogether, 
beyond  reach  of  her  weighty  arm.  And  as,  one  by  one,  they 
ventured  back,  after  what  they  thought  a  safe  interval,  creeping 
stealthily  over  the  freshly-sanded  floor,  and  mayhap  leaving  the 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  33 

impression  of  wet  clogs  thereon,  jerks,  cuffs,  and  slaps  were 
administered  with  a  freedom  born  of  her  supposed  wrongs. 

When  Mat  came  home,  to  offer  his  wages  upon  the  household 
altar,  the  storm  had  not  subsided,  and  he  was  fain  to  retreat 
to  the  quiet  fireside  of  Simon  to  smoke  his  pipe  in  peace,  and 
escape  its  pitiless  peltings.  He  could  not  have  selected  a  worse 
haven.  It  was  a  flagrant  going  over  to  the  enemy.  Thither 
she  followed  him  in  her  wrath,  and  in  her  blind  fury  assailed 
not  only  him,  but  Bess,  Simon,  Mr.  Clough,  and  Joshua  Brookes, 
whom  she  mingled  in  indiscriminate  confusion,  casting  aspersions 
on  the  girl,  which  wounded  nobody  more  than  her  own  husband. 

In  the  midst  and  in  spite  of  all  this,  Jabez  grew  apace. 
Life  was  not  altogether  sweetened  for  him  by  Mrs.  Clough's 
kindness,  only  made  a  little  less  bitter,  and  certainly  not  less 
hard ;  since  almost  his  first  experience  with  the  go-cart  was  to 
tilt  at  the  open  doorway,  and  pitch  head-foremost  down  a  flight 
of  three  steps  into  the  stony  yard,  whence  frightened  Bess  raised 
him,  with  a  bleeding  nose  and  a  great  lump  on  his  forehead, 
amidst  the  mocking  laughter  of  Sal  Cooper. 

A  chair  was  overturned  across  the  doorway  as  a  barrier, 
until  Simon  could  place  a  sliding  foot-board  there.  But  Jabez 
had  still  many  a  knock  against  chair  or  table  until  Bess  made 
a  padded  roll  for  his  forehead,  as  a  protective  coronal.  Then 
every  tooth  cost  him  a  convulsion,  and  any  one  less  patient  and 
tender  hearted  than  Bess  would  have  abandoned  her  self-imposed 
charge  in  despair,  his  accidents  and  ailments  made  such  inroads 
on  her  rest  and  on  her  time. 

But  even  patience  has  its  limits,  and  Sally  Cooper  strained 
the  cable  until  it  snapped.  At  a  war  of  words  Bess  was  no 
match  for  her  antagonist:  and,  rather  than  endure  a  second 
contest,  the  Cleggs  left  the  fiery  serpent  behind,  and  quitted 
the  yard. 


34  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

Not  willingly,  for  Simon,  contrary  to  the  roving  habits  of 
ordinary  weekly  tenants,  had  not  changed  his  abode  since  his 
wedding-day,  and  the  river  was  as  a  friend  to  him.  He  declared 
he  "could  na  sleep  o'  neets  without  wayter  singin'  to  him." 
However,  he  contrived  to  find  a  very  similar  tenement,  in  just 
such  another  cul-de-sac,  with  just  such  another  tripe-dresser's 
cellar  underneath,  and  that,  too,  without  quitting  Long  Millgate. 
Midway  between  the  College  and  the  tannery  this  court  was 
situated,  its  narrow  mouth  opening  to  the  breezes  wafting  down 
Hanover  Street ;  they  could  still  look  out  on  the  verdure  of 
Walker's  Croft,  and  the  Irk  laved  its  stony  base  as  at  that  same 
Skinners'  Yard,  which  Simon  lived  to  see  demolished. 

It  was  May ;  bright,  sunny,  perfumed  May.  The  hawthorn 
hedges  on  the  ridge  of  the  croft  were  white  with  scented 
blossoms,  and  the  Irk — not  the  muddled  stream  which  improve- 
ment (?)  is  fast  shutting  out  of  remembrance — went  on  its 
dimpled  way,  smiling  at  the  promise  of  the  season.  The  echoes 
of  the  May-day  milkcart  bells,  and  the  flutter  of  their  decorative 
ribbons,  were  dying  out  of  all  but  infantile  remembrance — the 
month  was  more  than  a  fortnight  old. 

It  was  1802,  and  Jabez  was  almost  three  years  old.  He  was 
running,  or  rather  scrambling,  about  the  uneven  court,  gathering 
strength  of  limb  and  lung  from  their  free  use,  albeit  at  the  cost 
of  dirt  on  frock  and  face,  and  the  trouble  of  washing  for 
Bess. 

She  was  singing  at  her  batting-frame — not  an  unusual  thing 
now,  for  rumour  had  whispered  in  her  ear  that  the  Lancashire 
Volunteers  were  on  their  homeward  march.  Even  as  she  sang, 
a  stout  young  fellow  in  uniform  stopped  at  the  narrow  entrance 
of  the  court,  and  questioned  two  or  three  gossiping  women,  who, 
with  arms  akimbo,  blocked  up  the  passage,  if  they  knew  the 
whereabouts  of  Simon  Clegg,  the  tanner,  and  his  daughter  Bess, 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  35 

"  What !  th'  wench  as  has  the  love-choilt  ? "  answered  one  of 
the  women. 

"The  girl  I  mean  had  no  child  when  I  saw  her  last," 
responded  he,  between  his  set  teeth. 

"  Happen  that's  some  toime  sin',  mester,  or  it's  not  th'  same 
lass.  That's  her  singin'  like  a  throstle  o'er  her  wark  at  the 
oppen  winder." 

"And  that's  her  choilt,"  said  another,  ending  by  a  lusty  call, 
"  Jabez,  lad,  coom  hither." 

Jabez,  taught  to  obey  his  elders,  came  at  a  trot  in  answer 
to  the  woman's  call.  The  volunteer  looked  down  upon  him. 
The  child  had  neither  Bess's  eyes  nor  Bess's  features ;  but  he 
heard  the  voice  of  Bess,  and  over  the  woman's  shoulder  he 
caught  a  glimpse  of  her  face  at  the  distant  window.  It  was 
Bess,  sure  enough  ! 

Sick  at  heart,  Tom  Hulme,  for  it  was  he,  leaned  for  support 
against  the  side  of  the  dark  entry.  These  women  but  confirmed 
what  he  had  heard  in  Skinners'  Yard  from  Matt  Cooper's 
vindictive  wife.  The  deep  shadow  of  the  entry  hid  his  change 
of  countenance.  Without  a  condemnatory  word,  without  a  step 
forward  towards  the  girl  whose  heart  was  full  of  him,  he  steadied 
himself  and  his  voice,  and  mustering  courage  to  say,  "  No,  that 
is  not  the  lass  I  want,"  strode  resolutely  out  of  the  entry ; 
and,  bending  his  steps  to  the  right,  turned  up  Toad  Lane,  and 
so  on  to  the  "  Seven  Stars,"  in  Withy  Grove,  where  he  was 
billeted. 

He  had  come  back  from  Ireland  full  of  hope,  and  this  was 
the  end  of  it !  He  had  been  constant,  and  she  was  frail !  She 
whom  he  had  left  so  pure  had  sunk  so  low  that,  though  she 
bore  the  brand  of  shame,  she  could  sing  blithely  at  her  work, 
unconscious  or  reckless  of  her  degradation !  Tom  had  only  been 
a  hand-loom  weaver,  and  was  but  a  private  in  his  regiment,  but 


36 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 


he  had  a  soul  as  constant  in  love,  as  sensitive  to  disgrace, 
as  the  proudest  officer  in  the  corps.  He  might  have  doubted 
Sally  Cooper's  artful  insinuations,  but  for  the  unconscious  con- 
firmation of  the  other  women,  and  the  personal  testimony  of 
poor  little  Jabez;  the  innocent  child,  borne  with  sorrow  by 
his  own  dead  mother,  bringing  sorrow  to  his  living  maiden-foster- 
mother. 

The  little  lispings  of  the  child  conveyed  no  impression  to 
Bess's  understanding,  but  one  of  the  women  bawled  out  to  her 
from  the  open  court 

"Aw  say,  theer's  bin  a  volunteer  chap  axin'  fur  a  lass 
neamed  Bess  Clegg,  but  he  saw  thee  from  th'  entry,  and  said 
yo're  not  th'  lass  he  wanted  !  " 

Her  heart  gave  a  great  leap,  and  the  blood  flushed  up  to 
her  pale  face.  Could  it  be  possible  that  there  was  another 
Bess  Clegg  of  whom  a  volunteer  could  be  in  search  ?  Yet,  had 
that  been  her  Tom,  he  would  have  known  his  Bess  again,  even 
after  five — ay,  or  twenty  years.  She  would  know  him  anywhere ! 
And  so  all  that  day,  and  the  next,  her  heart  kept  in  a  flutter 
of  expectation  and  perplexity.  She  wondered  he  did  not  come. 
The  regiment  was  in  town ;  he  surely  had  not  been  misled  in 
his  inquiries  because  they  had  "flitted."  Yet  in  all  her  thoughts 
the  grim  reality  had  no  place.  Her  perfect  innocence  and 
singleness  of  heart  had  never  suggested  such  a  possibility  to 
her. 

The  days  went  by  from  the  i$th  to  the  22nd,  yet  he  came 
not.  After  working  hours  Simon  tried  to  hunt  him  up ;  but 
the  billeting  system  and  ill-lighted  streets,  set  his  simple  tactics 
at  defiance.  On  the  latter  day,  Lord  Wilton  gave  a  dinner  in 
the  quadrangle  of  the  College,  to  the  non-commissioned  officers 
and  privates  in  his  regiment,  to  celebrate  their  return,  and  the 
peace  and  plenty  then  restored  to  the  land, 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  37 

At  the  first  sound  of  fife  and  drum,  Bess  snatched  up 
Jabez,  and  leaving  house  and  batting-frame  to  take  care  of 
themselves,  rushed  along  the  street  to  the  "  Sun  Inn "  corner, 
where  Long  Millgate  turns  at  a  sharp  angle,  the  old  Grammar 
School  and  the  Chetham  College  gate  standing  at  the  outer 
bend  of  the  elbow.  The  better  to  see,  she  mounted  the  steps 
of  the  house  next  to  the  "Sun" — a  house  kept  by  a  leather- 
breeches  maker, — and  strained  her  eyes  as  the  gay  procession 
wound  from  the  apple-market,  passed  the  handsome  black- 
and-white  frame-house  of  the  Grammar  School's  head-master, 
and,  with  banners  flying,  and  drums  beating,  marched  under 
the  ancient  arched  gateway  between  a  double  row  of  blue-coat 
boys. 

She  held  Jabez  high  up  in  her  arms  to  let  him  see,  and 
his  little  arms  clasped  her  neck,  as  she  scanned  every  passing 
soldier's  features.  Two-thirds  of  the  corps  had  passed — she  saw 
the  loved  and  looked-for  face,  and,  radiant  with  delight,  stretched 
forward,  and  in  eager  tones  called — "  Tom  !  " 

There  was  a  mutual  start  at  recognition;  two  faces  crimsoned 
to  the  brow ;  then  one  white  as  ashes,  a  keen  meaning  glance 
at  the  child,  teeth  clenched,  and  eyes  set  with  stern  resolution  ; 
and,  without  another  look,  without  a  word,  Tom  Hulme  went 
on  under  the  Whale's-jawbone  gateway ;  and  Bess,  with  brain 
bewildered,  hands  and  limbs  relaxed,  sank  on  to  the  breeches- 
maker's  steps  in  a  dead  faint. 

A  lady  (Mrs.  Chadwick),  who  had  a  little  girl  by  the  hand, 
caught  Jabez  as  they  fell,  and  putting  his  hand  in  her  daughter's, 
bade  her  take  care  of  him — she  was  perhaps  a  year  or  two 
older  than  he — whilst  she  raised  the  poor  young  woman's  head, 
and  applied  a  smelling-bottle  to  her  nose. 

Strange  parting,  strange  meeting !  How  close  the  founts  of 
sweet  and  bitter  waters  lie !  How  often  separate  streams  of  life 


38  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

meet    and    part    again ;    some  to   meet   and   blend   in   after  years, 
some  to   meet  never   more! 

Another  week,  and  Lord  Wilton's  Lancashire  volunteer  regiment 
had  a  man  the  less,  the  line  had  a  man  the  more.  Private 
Thomas  Hulme  had  exchanged. 


CHAPTER    THE    FIFTH* 

ELLEN    CHADWICK. 

OHE    song    of   the    human  throstle  was  heard    no   more 
floating  across  the  batting  frame    out    of   the    window 
of  its   cage,   in  the   dreary  yard   on   the   banks   of   the 
Irk.    The    swish    of  the   wands    might   be   heard   when 
other  sounds  were  low,  but  no    more  snatches  of  melody  flowed 
in   between. 

Kind-hearted  Mrs.  Chadwick  had  not  been  content  to  leave  poor 
Bessy  at  the  breeches-maker's  when  her  swoon  was  over ;  but, 
seeing  that  the  girl  continued  in  a  dazed  kind  of  stupor,  sent 
to  the  adjoining  "  Sun  Inn "  for  cold  brandy-and-water,  to 
stimulate  the  dormant  mind.  Bess  drank,  half  unconsciously,  and 
Mrs.  Chadwick,  leaving  her  little  daughter  Ellen  to  amuse  astonished 
Jabez,  waited  patiently  until  the  young  woman  could  collect  her 
ideas,  and  not  only  tell  where  she  lived,  but  prepare  to  walk 
home. 

By  that  time  the  road  was  tolerably  clear.  Mrs.  Chadwick 
thanked  the  breeches-maker,  and  bidding  Miss  Ellen  march  in 
advance  with  little  Jabez,  herself  helped  Bessy  Clegg  home- 
ward. 

She  never  asked  herself  why  or  wherefore  the  girl  had  fainted, 
or  whose  the  child  she  carried  in  her  arms.  She  merely  saw  a 

*  See  Appendix. 


40  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

modest-looking  young  woman  stricken  down  by  illness  or  distress, 
and  put  out  a  Christian  hand  to  help  her. 

It  was  past  Simon's  dinner-hour,  and  they  found  him  on  the 
look-out  for  the  absentees.  He  was  more  bewildered  than  Bess 
when  he  saw  her  brought  home  pale  and  trembling  by  a 
stranger,  whose  dress  and  manner  bespoke  her  superior  station, 
Mrs.  Chadwick  explained,  seeing  that  Bess  was  incapable. 

"The  poor  girl  fainted  almost  opposite  to  the  College  gate, 
as  she  watched  Earl  Wilton's  regiment  march  past.  She  recovered 
so  slowly,  I  was  afraid  to  let  her  come  through  the  streets 
unprotected,  especially  as  she  had  so  young  a  child  in  her 
charge." 

Simon  thanked  her,  as  well  he  might.  Benevolence  will 
relieve  distress  with  money,  or  passing  words  of  sympathy,  but 
it  is  not  often  silken  skirt  and  satin  bonnet  walk  through  a 
crowded  thoroughfare  in  close  conjunction  with  bonnetless  cotton 
and  linsey. 

Yet  Simon  was  utterly  at  a  loss  to  account  for  her  swoon. 
He  could  only  conjecture  that  she  had  missed  her  sweetheart 
from  the  corps,  and  that  the  enquiring  volunteer  had  been  a 
comrade  sent  to  announce  Tom  Hulme's  death.  Observing  how 
much  he  was  confounded,  the  good  lady  thought  it  best  to  retire, 
and  leave  them  to  themselves. 

"  Come,   Ellen,   it   is   time   we   went    home." 

But  Ellen,  seated  on  a  low  stool  in  the  corner,  had  her  lap 
full  of  broken  toys,  which  had  found  their  way  hither  from  the 
C lough  nursery,  and  which  Jabez  displayed  to  all  comers." 

"  My  daughter  appears  wonderfully  attracted  to  your  little 
grandson." 

"  He's  noa  gran'son  o'  moine,  Missis,  though  aw  think  aw 
love  th'  little  lad  as  much  as  if  he  did  belung  to  us.  Aw  just 
picked  him  eawt  o'  th'  wayter,  i'  th'  greet  flood  abeawt  two 


ELLEN    CHADWICK    WANTS    PRINCE    WILLIAM. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  41 

year  an'  hauve  back.  Aw  dunnot  know  reetly  who  th'  young 
un  belungs  to." 

"And  you  have  kept  him  ever  since — through  all  the  trying 
time  of  scarcity  ?  " 

"Yoi;  aw  could  do  no  other,  an'  a  little  chap  like  Jabez 
couldna  ate  much." 

"It  does  you   credit,"   said   the   lady. 

"  Mebbe.  Aw  dunnot  know.  Aw  dunnot  see  mich  credit  i' 
doin'  one's  clear  duty.  But  aw  think  theer'd  ha'  bin  discredit 
an'  aw  hadna  done  it." 

"  I   wish   everyone  shared  your  sentiments,"   replied   she. 

By  this  time  the  little  girl  had  relinquished  the  toys,  kissed 
the  little  boy  patronisingly,  and  was  by  her  mother's  side,  ready 
to  depart.  A  word  of  sympathy  and  encouragement  from  Mrs. 
Chadwick,  and  father  and  daughter  were  left  alone  with  their 
new  sorrow. 

Sorely  puzzled  was  Simon  to  account  for  Tom  Hulme's 
strange  conduct.  He  could  only  come  to  the  conclusion  that  he 
had  picked  up  a  fresh  sweetheart  in  Ireland,  and  was  ashamed 
to  show  his  face. 

"An'   if  so,   lass,   yo're   best   off  without  him,"   said   he. 

The  stern,  troubled  look  on  the  young  volunteer's  face,  which 
Bess  had  seen  and  her  father  had  not,  he  could  not  understand, 
and  therefore  could  not  credit. 

One   day  the  girl  said,   as   if  struck   by  a  sudden   thought — 

"Feyther,  aw  saw  Turn  look  hard  at  Jabez.  D'un  yo'  think 
as  heaw  he  fancied  aw  wur  wed  ? " 

"  He  moight,  lass,  he  moight,"  said  he,  knocking  the  ashes 
out  of  his  pipe ;  "  but  dunnot  thee  fret,  aw'll  look  Turn  up, 
and  set  it  o'  reet,  if  that's  o'." 

But  there  was  no  setting  it  right,  for  by  that  time  Tom  had 
left  the  corps  and  the  town,  and  thenceforth  Bess's  musical 


42  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

pipe  was  out  of  tune,  and  stopped  utterly.  She  worked,  it  is 
true,  but  she  had  no  heart  in  her  work  ;  and  though  before 
her  father  she  kept  up  a  show  of  cheerfulness,  in  his  absence 
she  shed  many  and  bitter  tears. 

Smiles  and  tears  are  among  a  child's  earliest  perceptions  and 
experiences.  Of  the  mother's  smile  in  its  full  sense  Jabez  knew 
nothing.  With  all  her  winning  ways,  Bess  could  never  supply 
that  want,  if  want  it  could  be,  where  it  was  never  missed, 
having  so  good  a  substitute.  But  of  the  change  which  came 
over  her  when  she  knew  that  Tom  was  indeed  lost  to  her, 
even  the  three  years'  child  could  be  sensible.  He  had  been 
early  taught  to  show  a  brave  front  when  he  hurt  himself,  and 
the  starting  tears  would  subdue  to  a  whimper;  but,  for  all  that, 
tears  to  him  meant  pain  or  disappointment,  and  as  they  fell 
and  wetted  the  (not  always  clean)  little  cheek  laid  lovingly 
against  hers,  a  tender  chord  was  struck ;  he  would  press  his 
small  arm  tighter  round  her  neck,  and  with  a  sympathetic 
"Don't  ky,  Beth!"  nestle  closer,  and  try  to  kiss  away  the 
drops,  which  only  fell  the  faster. 

Low-spirited  nurses  do  not  make  lively  children,  and  Jabez, 
after  a  stout  tussle  with  the  whooping-cough,  began  to  droop  as 
much  as  Bess ;  so  clear-eyed  Simon  instituted  a  series  of 
Sunday  rambles  for  the  three,  in  search  of  plants  and  posies,  to 
brighten  their  dull  home,  and  of  bloom  to  brighten  the  fading 
cheeks.  Sometimes  Matt  Cooper,  with  one  or  two  of  his 
youngsters,  would  join  them,  but  not  often,  Sal  was  so  jealous 
of  his  friendship  with  the  Cleggs,  and  the  pleasant  day  was  so 
certain  to  be  marred  by  an  unpleasant  reception  in  the  evening 
at  home. 

These  summer  walks  seldom  extended  beyond  Collyhurst 
Clough  and  quarries,  or  Smedley  Vale,  or  through  the  fields  to 
Cheetham  Hill,  stopping  at  the  "Cow  and  Calf"  to  refresh,  and 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  4.3 

rest  the  little  ones,  before  they  came  back  laden  with  wild 
flowers  down  Red  Bank  and  over  Scotland  Bridge,  to  their 
respective  "yards"  in  Long  Millgate. 

At  first,  whenever  they  took  the  pleasant  lower  road  through 
Angel  Meadow,  they  did  their  best  to  ferret  out  the  parentage 
and  connections  of  Jabez,  hoping  by  their  inquiries  even  to  keep 
alive  the  memory  of  his  marvellous  deliverance,  so  that  in  case 
the  missing  father  should  return,  there  might  be  a  mutual 
restoration. 

These  Sunday  excursions  did  not  drop  with  the  sere  autumnal 
leaves.  A  crisp  clear  day  called  them  forth  surely  as  sunshine 
had  done,  Jabez  mounting  pick-a-back  on  the  shoulders  of  Simon 
or  Matt  when  his  little  feet  could  no  longer  keep  up  their  trot 
beside  the  bigger  Cooper  boys.  Frames  were  invigorated,  cheer- 
fulness came  back  to  face  and  home,  and  Simon,  who  had  a 
deep-seated  love  of  Nature  in  his  soul,  finding  her  so  good  a 
physician,  kept  up  the  acquaintance  through  rounding  seasons 
and  years.  And  from  Nature  he  drew  lessons  which  he  dropped 
as  seed  into  the  boy's  heart,  as  unconscious  of  the  great  work 
he  was  doing  as  was  Jabez  himself. 

The  boy  throve  and  grew  hardy.  Companionship  with  older 
and  rougher  lads,  sturdy  fellows  with  wills  of  their  own,  made 
him  sturdy  too  ;  a  lad  who  would  take  a  blow  and  give  one 
on  occasion  ;  who  would  run  a  race  and  lose,  and  a  second,  and 
third,  until  he  could  win.  But  Bess's  gentle  training  was 
something  very  different  from  Sal's,  and  Jabez  grew  up  tender 
as  well  as  strong  and  bold. 

A  persecuted  kitten  had  taken  refuge  under  Bess's  batting- 
frame  in  the  foundling's  go-cart  days,  and  in  care  for  that 
kitten,  and  for  a  wounded  brown  linnet  brought  home  one 
Sunday,  he  learned  humanity.  Matthew's  lads  were  given  to 
bird-nesting,  and  Matt  himself  saw  no  harm  in  it;  but  when 


44  ™E  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

that  young  linnet's  wing  was  broken  in  a  scuffle  for  the  nest 
stolen  from  a  clump  of  brushwood,  Simon  read  the  robbers 
such  a  homily  they  had  never  heard  in  their  young  lives,  and  as 
a  corollary  he  took  the  bird  home  to  be  fed  and  nursed  by  Bess 
and  Jabez  till  it  could  fly,  an  event  which  never  came  about. 

In  hot  weather  the  lads  pulled  off  clogs  and  stockings  (there 
were  no  trousers  to  turn  up — they  wore  breeches),  and  waded 
into  pools  and  brooks,  and  Jabez  would  be  no  whit  behind. 
On  one  of  these  occasions,  either  the  current  was  too  strong 
for  the  venturesome  child,  or  the  gravel  slipped  from  under  his 
feet,  or  his  companions  pushed  him — no  matter  which, — but  in 
he  went,  and,  but  for  the  presence  of  Simon,  would  have  been 
drowned.  Simon  had  been  born  on  the  river  banks,  and  could 
swim  like  a  fish.  At  once  he  resolved  that  Jabez  should  learn 
to  do  the  same,  and  begin  at  once. 

"  Yo'  see,  Bess,  if  aw  hadna  bin  theer  he'd  a  bin  dreawnded, 
sure  as  wayter's  wet,  an'  th'  third  toime  pays  off  fur  o' ;  so  he 
mun  larn  to  tak'  care  on  himsel'  th'  next  toime  he  marlocks 
[gambols]  among  th'  Jack-sharps." 

Jabez  was  not  six  years  old  when  Simon  Clegg  gave  him 
and  the  young  Coopers  their  first  lesson  in  swimming,  in  a 
delightful  and  sequestered  part  of  Smedley  Vale,  where  the  Irk 
was  clear  and  bright.  He  had  shown  them,  nearer  home,  how 
a  frog  used  its  limbs,  and  then,  after  a  few  preliminary  evolutions, 
to  show  how  a  man  used  his,  took  the  lad  on  his  back,  and, 
after  swimming  with  him  awhile,  shook  him  off  into  the  water 
to  flounder  about  for  himself. 

Bess  was  often  left  at  home  on  Sundays  after  that ;  and  Jabez 
was  not  merely  the  better  for  his  bath,  but  by  the  time  he  was 
eight  years  old  was  a  fearless  swimmer. 

Yet,  although  these  country  rambles  had  become  an  institution, 
Simon  Clegg  never  neglected  his  Sabbath  duties.  Sunday  morning 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  45 

was  sure  to  see  him,  clean-shaven,  in  his  best  suit,  with  Jabez 
by  the  hand,  and  mild-eyed  Bess  beside,  on  the  free  seats  of 
the  Old  Church,  under  the  eye  of  parsons  and  churchwardens  ; 
and  Jabez,  if  he  could  understand  little  of  the  service,  could 
gather  in  a  sense  of  the  beautiful  from  the  grand  old  architecture, 
from  the  swell  of  the  solemn  organ,  the  harmonious  voices  of 
the  choristers — of  the  Blue-coat  boys  in  the  Chetham  gallery 
over  the  churchwardens'  pew,  and  of  the  Green-coat  children 
farther  on.  Then  the  silver  mace  carried  before  the  parson  was 
a  thing  to  wonder  at,  and  fill  him  with  awe  ;  and  no  one  could 
tell  how  the  clerical  robes,  and  choristers'  surplices,  transfigured 
common  mortals  in  his  admiring  eyes. 

Those  years  of  Jabez  Clegg's  young  life  had  been  full  of 
history  for  Manchester  and  Europe.  The  town  had  grown  as  well 
as  the  foundling.  Invention  had  been  busy.  Volunteer  regiments 
had  been  one  by  one  disbanded,  a  daily  newspaper  was  started, 
and  peaceful  arts  flourished.  Then,  ere  another  year  expired, 
Napoleon  declared  the  British  Isles  in  a  state  of  blockade;  British 
subjects  on  French  soil,  whether  civil  or  military,  to  be  prisoners 
of  war;  British  commodities  lawful  spoil;  and  so  War — red-handed 
War — broke  loose  once  more.  Again  Manchester  rose  up  in  arms 
to  defend  country  and  commerce.  A  "  Loyalty  Fund  "  of  £22,000 
was  raised  for  the  support  of  Government.  No  fewer  than  nine 
separate  volunteer  corps  sprang  from  the  ashes  of  the  old  ones, 
and  the  town  was  one  huge  garrison.  The  commander  of  one 
regiment — the  Loyal  Masonic  Rifle  Volunteer  Corps — Colonel 
Hanson — a  remarkable  man  in  many  ways — was  distinguished 
by  a  command  from  George  III.  to  appear  at  Court  in  full 
regimentals,  and  with  his  hat  on. 

Messrs.  Pickford  offered  to  place  at  the  disposal  of  Government 
four  hundred  horses,  fifty  waggons,  and  twenty-eight  boats.  Loyal 
townsmen,  with  more  money  than  courage  of  their  own,  sought  to 


46  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

stimulate  that  of  others  by  sending  gold  medals  flying  amongst 
the  officers  of  the  volunteer  corps.  "The  British  Volunteer" 
came  from  the  press  of  Harrop  in  the  Market  Place,  and  once 
more  the  music  of  drum  and  trumpet  was  in  the  ascendant 

To  crown  the  whole,  Manchester,  which  had  never  been  called 
upon  to  entertain  British  Royalty  since  Henry  VII.  looked  in 
upon  the  infant  town,  was  visited  in  1804  by  Prince  William, 
Duke  of  Gloucester,  commander  of  the  North-west  District,  and 
his  son,  to  review  this  Lancashire  volunteer  army ;  and  the 
whole  town  was  consequently  in  a  ferment  of  excitement 
Nothing  was  thought  of,  or  talked  of,  but  the  visit  of  the  Duke 
and  Prince,  and  the  coming  review,  the  more  so  as  reports 
differed  respecting  the  appointed  site. 

Market  Street,  Manchester,  which  George  Augustus  Sala  has 
commemorated  as  one  of  the  "  Streets  of  the  World,"  was  then 
Market  Street  Lane,  a  confused  medley  of  shops  and  private 
houses,  varying  from  the  low  and  rickety  black-and-white  tenement 
of  no  pretensions  to  the  fine  mansion  with  an  imposing  frontage, 
and  ample  space  before.  But  the  thoroughfare  was  in  places  so 
very  narrow  that  two  vehicles  could  not  pass,  and  pedestrians 
on  the  footpath  were  compelled  to  take  refuge  in  the  doorways 
from  the  muddy  wheels  which  threatened  damage  to  dainty 
garments,  while  the  whole  was  ill-paved  and  worse  lighted. 

At  the  corner  where  it  opens  a  vent  for  the  warehouse  traffic 
of  High  Street,  then  stood  a  handsome  new  hotel,  the  Bridge- 
water  Arms,  in  front  of  which  a  semi-circular  area  was  railed 
off  with  wooden  posts  and  suspended  chains.  Within  this  area, 
on  the  bright  morning  of  April  the  12th,  two  sentinels  were 
placed,  who,  marching  backwards  and  forwards,  crossed  and 
recrossed  each  other  in  front  of  the  hotel  door ;  tokens  that 
the  Royal  Duke  and  his  suite  had  taken  up  their  quarters 
within. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  47 

Beyond  the  semi-circle  of  chained  posts,  mounted  horsemen 
kept  back  the  concourse  of  spectators  which  pressed  closely  on 
the  horses'  heels.  Among  the  crowd  was  Simon  Clegg,  with 
Jabez  mounted  on  his  shoulders,  albeit  he  was  a  somewhat 
heavy  load.  Simon  was  a  man  of  peace,  but  he  was  a  staunch 
believer  in  Royalty,  and  that,  quite  as  much  as  the  spectacle, 
had  drawn  him  thither. 

It  was  a  mild  and  cheery  April  morn ;  the  windows  of  the 
upper  room  in  which  sat  the  Prince,  the  centre  of  a  brilliant 
circle,  were  open,  and  the  loyal  multitude  feasted  their  un- 
accustomed eyes  with  the  sight.  As  Jabez  looked  on  in  a 
child's  ravishment,  a  little  dark-haired,  dark-eyed  girl,  some  six 
or  seven  years  old,  turned  sharply  round  the  narrow  street  by 
the  side  of  the  hotel  on  the  flags  where  there  was  no  chain  to 
bar ;  passing  unquestioned  the  sentinel  on  guard,  who,  seeing 
only  a  well-dressed  solitary  child  in  white  muslin,  with  a  sash 
and  hat-ribbons  of  pink  satin,  concluded  that  she  belonged  to 
the  hotel.  Once  there,  she  asked  fearlessly — 

"  Where  is  Prince  William  ?      I   want   Prince   William  ! " 

Then  the  sentinel  began  to  question  ;  but  the  little  maid  had 
but  one  reply — 

"I   want   Prince   William!" 

The  soldier  would  have  turned  her  back,  but  the  disputation 
had  attracted  attention  in  the  room  above. 

An   officer's   head   was  thrust  out. 

"What's   the   matter?"   asked   he. 

"  I  want  to  see  the   Prince.      I   want   to   know " 

'  Bid  the  little  lady  come  up  hither." 

And  the  little  lady  went  up,  all  unconscious  of  state  etiquette 
or  ceremonial. 

An  officer  in  rich  uniform,  with  jewels  on  his  breast,  took  her 
on  his  knee,  and  asked  what  she  wanted  with  Prince  William. 


48  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

"  Oh,  mamma  and  my  aunts  are  wanting  ever  so  to  know  if 
the  review  is  going  to  be  on  Camp  Field  or  on  Sale  Moor ; 
and  Aunt  Ellen  says  it's  to  be  in  one  place,  and  mamma  thinks 
it's  the  other ;  and  so,  as  I  was  dressed  first,  I  just  slipped  out 
at  the  back  door  and  ran  here  to  ask  Prince  William  himself, 
for  I  thought  he  would  be  sure  to  know. 

The  gentleman  laughed  heartily,  and  the  others  followed 
suit. 

"And   who   is   your   mamma,   my  dear?" 

"  My  mamma  is  Mrs.  Chadwick,  and  I'm  Ellen  Chadwick ; 
and  we  live  in  Oldham  Street." 

"  Oh,  indeed  !  And  why  are  the  ladies  so  anxious  to  know 
where  the  Prince  holds  the  review?"  asked  the  officer  on  whose 
knee  she  sat 

"Ah — that's  just  it.  If  he  reviews  at  Sale  Moor  he  will  go 
past  our  house ;  and  then  we  shall  see  all  the  soldiers  from 
our  own  windows.  Won't  it  be  fine  ? " 

Another  gentleman  asked  what  the  ladies  were  doing  when 
she  left ;  and  I'm  afraid  Ellen  made  more  revelations  anent 
their  toilettes  than  were  strictly  necessary,  for  the  laughter  was 
prolonged. 

She  did  not,  however,  lose  sight  of  her  self-imposed  mission. 
Struggling  from  her  seat,  she  said — 

"  Oh,   please  do  tell    me  where   is  Prince  William  ;    I   must  go 
home,  and   I   do  so  want   to  know." 

"Tell  your  mamma,  Miss  Ellen,"  said  he,  smiling,  "that  the 
Prince  will  review  at  Sale  Moor ;  and  take  this,  my  dear,  for 
yourself,"  putting  a  shilling  (shillings  at  that  time  were  perfectly 
plain  from  over-long  use)  in  her  hand. 

"  Oh,  thank  you !  But  are  you  sure — quite  sure  it  is  Sale 
Moor?" 

"Quite  sure." 


THE  MANCHESTER   MAN.  49 

The  little  damsel  set  off,  as  much  elated  with  her  news  as 
with  her  shilling.  As  she  ran  briskly  down  the  broad  steps, 
and  beyond  the  barrier,  she  came  in  contact  with  Simon,  who 
made  way  for  her  exit ;  and,  as  she  looked  up  smiling  to  thank 
him,  her  glance  rested  for  a  moment  on  the  boy  he  carried ; 
but  no  spark  of  recognition  flashed  into  the  eyes  of  either,  and 
no  one  in  all  that  crowd  saw  any  connection  between  that 
dainty,  white-frocked,  pink-slippered,  pink-sashed  miss,  and  the 
rough  lad  in  the  patched  suit  (a  Clough's  cast-off)  and  wooden 
clogs. 


CHAPTER    THE    SIXTH. 


TO  MARTIAL  MUSIC. 

SECOND  time  Jabez  and 
Ellen  saw  each  other  ere 
the  day  was  out. 

She    had    rushed    home 
with    eager    feet    and    eyes, 
through     back      streets,     to 
startle   Mrs.    Chadwick,   her 
newly-married     sister,     Mrs. 
Ashton,     and     a    bevy     of 
friends,    with   the    confident 
assurance    that    the    review 
would    be   at   Sale,  and   to 
confirm    it  by   a  display  of 
the     plain     shilling,     which 
"an   osifer  had   given   her." 
New   Cross,    where    the  volunteers   assembled,   was   not  then   a 
misnomer.      A   market   cross    occupied    the   centre    space  between 
the    four    wide    thoroughfares,   of  which    Oldham    Street    is   one; 
and   the  open   area  was   considerable. 

The  trumpets'  bray,  the  tramp  of  troops,  were  heard  long 
before  the  brilliant  cavalcade  was  set  in  motion ;  and  every 
window — every  house  in  Oldham  Street  (all  good  private  residences 
of  the  Gower  Street  stamp)  held  its  quota  of  heads  and  eyes 
and  costumes  as  brilliant  as  the  eyes. 


PRINCELY  RECOGNITION. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  51 

The  house  of  Mr.  Chadwick  was  situated  near  the  lower  end, 
and  commanded  a  good  view  of  the  Infirmary,  its  gardens,  and 
pond  in  Piccadilly.  To-day,  however,  the  royal  party  and  the 
volunteers,  many  of  whom  had  friends  looking  out  for  them,  were 
the  only  prospect  worth  a  thought ;  and  as  they  marched  proudly 
on,  to  the  gayest  of  gay  tunes,  kerchiefs  waved,  heads  nodded, 
and  eyes  sparkled  with  delight  and  pleasure. 

As  the  Duke  of  Gloucester  and  his  suite  rode  by,  their  charges 
prancing  to  the  music,  Ellen,  mounted  on  a  chair  by  the  window, 
between  Mrs.  Ashton  and  her  mother,  suddenly  pointed  to  an 
officer  in  their  midst,  resplendent  with  stars  and  orders,  and  in 
an  ecstasy  of  delight  screamed  out — 

"  Mamma,  mamma!  that's  the  gentleman  that  gave  me  the  shilling!" 

The  little  treble  voice  pierced  even  through  the  clamorous 
music.  A  noble  head  was  bowed,  a  plumed  hat  was  raised,  and 
lowered  until  it  swept  the  charger's  mane, 

"  Why,  child,  that  is  Prince  William ! "  was  the  simultaneous 
exclamation,  as  all  the  eyes  from  all  the  houses  across  the  street 
were  turned  in  wonderment  to  see  the  Chadwicks  so  distinguished ; 
and  Simon,  who,  still  carrying  Jabez,  was  trying  to  keep  pace 
with  the  troops,  wondered  too.  Moreover,  he  recognised  the  lady 
and  the  little  girl,  though  seen  but  once;  for  he  earned  his  own 
living,  such  as  it  was,  and  had  been  too  proud  to  call  on  the 
Chadwicks  to  say  how  his  daughter  fared,  lest  they  should  think 
he  sought  charity. 

"Jabez,  lad,  si  thi;  yon's  th'  lady  and  little  lass  as  browt  yo' 
whoam,  when  yo'  went  seein'  the  sodgers  afore ! " 

And  Jabez,  from  his  shoulder-perch,  looked  up  at  the  little 
bright-eyed  brunette,  to  remember  the  white  frock  and  pink 
ribbons  he  had  seen  at  the  Bridgewater,  but  nothing  beyond. 

The  man's  exclamation  and  attitude  had  at  the  same  time 
attracted  Mrs.  Chadwick,  who,  smiling  down  on  him  and  Jabez, 


c2  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

spoke  to  Ellen ;  and  she,  reminded  of  the  little  baby  who  had 
been  saved  from  drowning  in  a  cradle,  looked  down  and,  in  the 
fulness  of  her  new  importance,  nodded  too. 

The  momentary  stoppage  called  forth  a  loud  objurgation,  as 
a  reminder,  from  Sally  Cooper,  who  was  in  advance  with  Matthew 
and  such  of  her  bigger  lads  as  could  step  out;  and  Simon, 
equally  anxious  not  to  lose  sight  of  the  royal  party,  hurried  on. 
But  Sale  Moor  is  beyond  the  confines  of  Lancashire,  and  Simon 
found  the  five  miles  stiff  walking,  with  a  child  nearly  six  years 
old  on  his  shoulders,  and  Master  Jabez  had  to  descend  from  his 
seat,  and  trudge  on  his  own  feet.  This  caused  them  to  lag 
behind  their  friends,  Sally  insisting  on  Matt's  keeping  up  with 
the  soldiers,  in  order  that  they  might  get  a  good  place  on  the 
Moor,  and  they  were  thus  separated.  Bess  had  remained  at 
home.  Never  again  could  she  look  on  marching  troops  without 
a  pang. 

Sale  Moor  was  alive  with  expectant  sightseers.  Stands  and 
platforms  had  been  erected  for  the  accommodation  of  those  who 
could  afford  and  cared  to  pay ;  there  was  a  sprinkling  of  heavy 
carriages,  and  a  crowd  of  carts,  but  the  mass  of  spectators  were 
on  foot,  vehicular  locomotion  being  of  very  limited  capacity. 

Of  these  latter  were  the  Coopers  and  Cleggs,  of  course.  Sally, 
with  the  elders  of  her  turbulent  brood,  had  reached  the  ground 
in  time  to  be  deafened  by  the  score  of  cannon  Lord  Wilton's 
artillery  fired  as  a  salute  to  princedom.  She  had  planted  herself 
firmly  against  one  of  the  supports  of  an  elevated  platform,  where 
the  crowd  of  hero-worshippers  was  densest.  She  was  tightly 
jammed  and  crushed  against  the  woodwork ;  but  what  matter  ? 
she  had  a  fine  sight  of  the  field,  and  as  she  watched  the 
evolutions  of  the  volunteers,  congratulated  herself  and  Matthew 
on  having  left  "that  crawling  Clegg  an'  the  brat  so  far 
behint." 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  53 

Almost  as  she  spoke,  there  was  a  faint  crackle,  then  another, 
and  a  yielding  of  the  post  against  which  she  leaned — a  loud 
crash,  a  chorus  of  shrieks,  half  drowned  by  music  and  musketry, 
and  the  whole  platform  was  down,  with  the  living  freight  it  had 
borne ;  and  she  was  down  with  it. 

The  fashion,  wealth,  and  beauty  of  Cheshire  and  South 
Lancashire  had  their  representatives  amongst  that  struggling 
swooning,  writhing,  shrieking,  groaning  mass  of  humanity,  heaped 
and  huddled  in  indiscriminate  confusion,  with  up-torn  seats,  posts, 
and  draperies.  Strange  to  say,  only  one  person  was  killed 
outright — that  is,  on  the  spot — for  in  its  downfall  the  stand  bore 
with  it  many  of  the  throng  beneath.  But  of  the  injured  and 
the  shaken,  those  who  went  to  hospital  and  home  to  linger  long 
and  die  at  last,  history  has  kept  no  record. 

Amongst  these,  this  story  tells  of  two — two  differing  in  all 
but  sex.  Mrs.  Aspinall,  ever  frail  and  delicate,  was  borne  to 
her  carriage  with  whole  limbs,  but  insensible,  her  husband  and 
their  son  Laurence  both  uninjured  by  her  side.  Physicians  were 
in  attendance,  and  never  left  her  until  she  was  safely  lodged 
in  her  own  luxurious  chamber,  overlooking  Ardwick  Green,  and 
could  be  pronounced  out  of  immediate  danger.  Sally  Cooper, 
with  a  sprained  ancle,  a  dislocated  shoulder,  and  many  internal 
bruises,  was  placed  in  a  light  cart  on  a  bed  of  straw  procured 
from  a  neighbouring  farm,  with  another  of  the  injured,  and 
carried  to  the  Manchester  Infirmary,  to  try  the  skill  and  the 
patience  of  the  doctors  and  nurses. 

Neither  recovered.  The  unwounded  lady,  sorely  shaken, 
succumbed  to  the  shock  her  nervous  system  had  received  ;  and 
Master  Laurence,  already  petted  and  wilful,  was  left  to  be 
still  further  spoiled  by  his  widowed  father  and  Kitty,  his 
mother's  old  nurse.  Sally,  strong  of  frame  and  will,  impatient 
of  pain  and  of  restraint,  was  restive  under  the  surgeons' 


54  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

hands,  and  defeated  their  efforts  to  ascertain  her  injuries. 
She  exhausted  herself  with  shrieks  and  cries,  tossed  about  and 
disturbed  bandages,  rejected  physic,  which  she  called  "poison," 
and  soon  put  her  case  beyond  the  cure  of  physicians.  Too  late 
she  became  sensible  of  her  own  folly.  Then,  when  recovery 
was  impossible,  she  repented  of  many  misdeeds,  and  of  none 
more  than  her  slander  of  poor  Bess. 

And  thus  it  was.  When  the  mother  was  taken  from  the 
head  of  Cooper's  home,  Bess's  kind  heart  yearned  to  help  the 
disconsolate  man  and  his  troop  of  children.  Fortunately,  the 
eldest  was  a  girl  of  sixteen,  and  there  was  a  younger  girl  of 
ten.  Both  of  these  had  gone  out  to  work,  but  now  Molly  had 
to  stay  at  home  and  try  to  keep  all  right  and  tight  there. 
And  here  Bess  came  to  her  aid.  Without  scolding  or  brawling, 
she  put  the  girl  into  the  way  of  doing  things  quickly  and 
quietly.  She  encouraged  her  to  persevere,  so  that  her  cleanly 
mother  should  detect  no  eyesores  when  she  came  home  restored. 
She  tried  to  persuade  the  boys  to  be  less  refractory — to  help, 
not  to  irritate,  their  sister;  and  somehow  Cooper's  home  began 
to  miss  Sail,  much  as  one  misses  a  whirlwind. 

The  kindness  of  Bess  o'  Sim's  was  duly  reported  to  the 
Infirmary  patient,  and  at  first  chafed  her  sorely.  She  "hated  to 
be  under  obligations,  and  to  that  lass  o'  a'  others."  But  Bess, 
leaving  her  own  work — and  the  loss  of  an  hour  meant  the  loss 
of  an  hour's  earnings — herself  went  to  see  Sally  ;  and  such  was 
the  influence  of  her  gentle  voice  and  touch,  that  Sally's  chagrin 
imperceptibly  wore  away. 

Towards  the  last  she  grew  delirious,  raved  of  Bess  and  Tom 
Hulme  and  forgiveness,  and  in  the  short  calm  preceding  dissolution, 
confessed  to  Matt  Cooper  and  the  attendant  nurse  that  she  had 
cast  a  slur  on  Bess  Clegg's  good  name.  Had  made  Tom  Hulme 
believe  that  Simon  had  taken  the  lass  from  Skinners'  Yard  to 


.i     '  l<r.~.77/A::".M  ^fErSg  i  '        \ 


W 
K 
H 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  55 

hide  her  shame.  That  everybody  in  the  yard  knew  that  Bess 
had  a  child.  And  that  she  had  bade  him  inquire  for  himself. 
And  almost  her  last  word  was  a  hope  that  Bess  would  forgive  her. 

Matthew  Cooper  himself  hardly  forgave  his  dead  wife.  How, 
therefore,  should  he  carry  this  confession  to  Bess,  and  ask  her 
to  forgive  ?  He  took  a  medium  course  ;  and  after  a  few  days' 
consideration,  while  they  and  the  rest  of  the  tanners  were  eating 
their  "  baggin "  (a  workman's  luncheon,  so  called  from  the  bag 
it  is,  or  was,  usually  carried  in),  sat  down  beside  Simon  on  a 
bundle  of  thick  leather,  and  told  him  as  well  as  he  was 
able. 

Simon  was  troubled ;  but  he  was  not  vindictive.  He  would 
have  been  less  than  a  man  had  he  not  been  bitter  against  the 
cruel  woman  who  had  causelessly  wrecked  his  good  daughter's  life. 
But  he  was  sorry  for  Matt,  and  broke  out  into  no  revilings.  The 
woman  was  dead.  The  ill  she  had  done  had  been  fearfully 
punished,  and  neither  curses  nor  reproaches  could  affect  her  or 
undo  the  mischief. 

He  left  his  cheese  and  jannock  on  the  hides  untasted,  drew  his 
hand  across  his  forehead,  and  went  down  to  the  river-side  and 
across  the  wooden  bridge  for  a  breath  of  fresh  air  and  a  waft  of 
fresh  thought.  He  was  only  a  rugged  tanner,  but  he  had  a  heart 
within  his  breast ;  he  had  a  daughter  on  his  hearth  with  a  great 
wound  in  her  heart,  a  blast  on  her  good  name,  and  he  was  called 
upon  to  forgive  the  author  of  this  mischief ! 

Simon  had  long  been  used  to  commune  with  his  own  heart. 
He  had  built  up  a  wall  round  it  with  the  leaves  of  that  one  book 
on  his  bureau  ;  and  whenever  he  was  in  doubt  or  difficulty,  he  read 
the  precepts  inscribed  upon  that  wall.  He  went  back  to  Cooper, 
whose  appetite  had  been  no  better  than  his  own. 

"Aw  mun  think  this  ower,  Matt.  Aw  connot  say  aw  furgive 
yo'r  Sail  o'  at  a  dash.  Hoo's  done  that  as  may  niver  be  undone 


56  THE   MANCHESTER  MAN. 

whoile  thee  an'  me's  alive;  an'  aw  connot  frame  to  say  as  aw 
furgive  her  loike  o'  on  a  sudden.  An'  aw  mun  think  it  ower  before 
eawt  be  said  to  eawr  Bess,  poor  wench !  " 

A  week  elapsed  before  the  subject  was  broached  again.  Then 
Simon  spoke  to  Matthew  as  they  were  leaving  the  tannery-yard. 

"  Coom  into  th'  '  Queen  Anne ' "  (he  called  it  quean),  "  Matt, 
and  have  a  gill  ;  aw've  summat  t'  say  to  thee." 

There  was  nobody  in  the  taproom.  They  sat  down  to  their 
half-pint  horns  of  ale — times  were  too  hard  to  afford  deeper 
draughts — and  Simon  said  : 

"Aw've  bin  thinkin'  o'  this  week,  an'  as  aw  connot  furgive  yo'r 
Sail,  gradely  loike,  aw'll  no  put  th'  same  temptation  i'  th'  way  of 
eawr  Bess.  Hoo'd  better  think  Turn's  takken  oop  wi'  some  other 
wench,  than  ha'  th'  shame  o'  knowin'  th'  lad's  toorned  her  up  i' 
disgrace.  Hoo's  getten  ower  th'  worst  o'  her  trouble,  an'  awm  not 
gooin  to  break  her  heart  outreet,  and  mebbe  set  her  agen  little 
Jabez  into  th'  bargain." 

Matthew  could  but  assent  to  Simon's  proposition.  But  Simon 
had  not  said  all  his  say. 

"  But  aw'm  not  gooin'  to  sit  deawn  wi'  my  honds  i'  mi'  lap, 
an'  that  great  lump  o'  dirty  slutch  stickin'  to  moi  lass.  Yo' 
mun  help  me  t'  find  eawt  wheer  Tom  Hulme's  getten  to,  an' 
help  to  set  o'  straight  afore  aw  forgive  yo'r  Sail,  tho'  hoo  be 
dead  an'  gone." 

"  Wi'  o'  my  heart ! "  responded  Matt ;  and  he  gave  his  huge 
hand  to  Simon  in  token  thereof. 

When  the  Duke  of  Gloucester  inspected  the  volunteers  at 
Ardwick  on  the  3Oth  of  September  that  same  year,  not  one  of 
the  people  I  have  linked  together  witnessed  the  show. 

The  blinds  were  down  at  Mr.  Aspinall's  to  shut  out  a  sight  the 
like  of  which  had  made  him  a  widower  ;  and  within  the  darkened 
nursery,  wilful,  obstreperous  Laurence  fought  and  kicked  and  bit 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  57 

at  old  Kitty,  because  she  kept  him  within  doors  and  from  the 
windows  at  his  father's  command. 

There  was  a  christening  party  in  Mosley  Street,  at  the  Ashtons', 
at  which  not  only  the  Chadwicks,  but  the  Rev.  Joshua  Brookes — 
who  had  that  day  named  the  infant  Augusta — were  present.  They 
had  selected  a  public  occasion  for  their  private  festival.  It  was  a 
grand  affair.  Mr.  Ashton  was  a  small-ware  manufacturer  in  an 
extensive  way  of  business,  his  house  and  warehouse  occupying  a 
large  block  of  buildings  at  the  corner  of  York  Street.  And  the 
baby  Augusta,  born  the  previous  month,  was  a  first  child,  his  wife 
being  younger  than  himself  considerably.  Miss  Ellen,  too,  was 
there,  her  wonderful  shilling,  through  which  a  hole  had  been 
drilled,  suspended  from  her  neck  like  an  amulet. 

Simon  and  Matt  had  given  up  their  holiday  to  fruitless  inquiries 
after  Tom  Hulme  ;  and  Jabez,  after  a  stand-up  fight  with  a  boy 
in  the  yard  in  defence  of  his  kitten,  had  come  to  have  his  bleeding 
nose  and  bruised  forehead  doctored  by  Bess,  who  shed  over  him 
the  tears  long  gathering  in  their  fountains  for  Tom  Hulme's 
defection  And  somehow  at  that  stylish  christening  feast,  where  the 
baby  Augusta  was  a  personage  of  importance  almost  as  great  as 
the  celebrated  Miss  Kilmansegg,  the  orphan  Jabez  and  his  fosterers 
came  on  the  table  for  discussion  along  with  the  dessert ;  Mrs. 
Chadwick,  Mr.  Clough,  and  Joshua  Brookes  concurring  in  the  opinion 
mooted  by  the  lady  that  something  should  be  done  to  relieve  the 
worthy  tanner  and  his  daughter  of  the  cost  and  trouble  of  main- 
taining the  boy  as  he  grew  older  and  would  want  educating.  That 
they  should  talk  of  the  cost  of  maintenance  when  bread  was  a 
shilling  a  loaf,  was  no  marvel;  but  that  "education"  should  be 
named  as  a  necessity  for  one  of  "  nobody's  children,"  can  only  be 
cited  as  a  proof  that  either  the  boy's  strange  introduction  to 
Manchester,  or  Simon's  strange  generosity,  had  excited  an  interest 
in  both  beyond  the  common  run. 


58  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

Yet  that  something  was  vague.  The  only  definite  and  practicable 
view  of  the  subject  was  held  by  Joshua  Brookes,  and  he  kept  his 
opinion  to  himself. 


CHAPTER  THE  SEVENTH.* 


THE  REVEREND  JOSHUA  BROOKES. 

OSHUA  BROOKES  had  a 
child's  love  for  toffy  and  other 
sweetmeats.  These  he  pur- 
chased— or  obtained  without 
purchase — from  an  old  woman 
as  odd  and  eccentric  as  him- 
self, a  Mrs.  Clowes,  who 
occupied  a  bow-windowed  shop 
in  Half  Street,  which  literally 
overlooked  the  churchyard,  three 
or  four  steps  having  to  be 
mounted  by  her  customers. 

And  how  numerous  were  her 
customers,  and  how  great  the 
demand  for  her  toffy,  lozenges, 
and  "humbugs"  may  be  judged 
from  the  fact  that  her  work- 
men and  apprentices  used  up 
eight  or  nine  tons  of  sugar  every 
week.  Yet  she  was  apparently 
only  a  shop-keeper,  and  had 
begun  business  in  a  very  humble  way ;  but  she  was  persevering 
and  industrious,  and  success  followed.  She  was  active  and 

*  See  Appendix. 


COLLEGE  OUTLET  TO  THE  RIVER. 


60  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

energetic,  and  expected  those  around  her  to  be  the  same.  Yet 
she  was  kind  to  them,  as  may  be  supposed,  for  she  gave  every 
Sunday  a  good  dinner  to  fourteen  old  men  and  women  on 
whom  fortune  had  looked  unkindly,  waiting  upon  them  herself, 
and  never  tasting  her  own  dinner  until  her  pensioners  had 
dined. 

Regular  in  her  own  attendance  at  the  old  Church,  she 
required  her  household  to  be  regular  too,  though  she  left  them 
little  enough  time  to  dress — possibly  because  her  own  toilette 
was  so  scant.  The  dress  in  which  she  presented  herself  at  church 
was  certainly  unique  for  a  woman  of  wealth.  Her  gown  of  sober 
stuff  was  well  worn  ;  a  mob-cap  (a  fashion  which  came  in  with 
the  French  Revolution)  adorned  her  head,  over  which,  by  way 
of  bonnet,  a  brown  silk  handkerchief  was  tied.  On  rare — very 
rare — occasions,  an  old  black  silk  bonnet  covered  all. 

Joshua  Brookes,'  at  odds  with  his  clerical  brethren,  with  his 
pupils,  and  half  the  world  besides,  was  on  good  terms  with 
Mrs.  Clowes.  Rough,  prompt,  and  uncompromising  was  she ; 
rough;  irritable  and  unmannerly  was  he  ;  both  unpromising  hard- 
husked  nuts,  with  sweet  and  tender  kernels.  So  rough,  few  ever 
suspected  the  soft  heart ;  yet  the  woman  who  fed  the  poor 
before  herself,  and  the  learned  clergyman  who  had  a  fancy  for 
pigeons,  and  who  cherished  the  drunken  and  abusive  old  crippled 
shoemaker,  his  father,  to  the  last,  must  have  intuitively  known 
the  inner  life  of  each  other. 

The  day  following  Augusta  Ashton's  christening,  it  fell  within 
the  round  of  the  Reverend  Joshua's  duty  to  read  the  burial 
service  over  a  dead  townswoman  in  the  churchyard.  And  now 
occurred  one  of  those  incidents  in  which  the  ludicrous  and  the 
profane  blended,  and  brought  impulsive  Joshua  into  disfavour. 
As  was  not  unfrequently  the  case,  he  broke  off  in  the  midst  of 
the  service,  left  the  mourners  and  the  coffin  beside  the  open 


THE   MANCHESTER   MAN.  61 

grave,  threw  his  legs  over  the  low  wall,  and,  mounting  the  steps 
into  the  confectioner's  shop,  said: 

"  Here,  quick,  dame  ?  Give  me  some  horehound  drops  for 
my  cough." 

On  his  entrance  Mrs.  Clowes  broke  off  a  narrative  over  which 
she  and  her  shopwoman  were  laughing  heartily,  in  order  to  reach 
the  required  drops,  which  went  into  a  paper  without  weighing, 
and  for  which  no  payment  was  tendered.  Back  he  strode  over 
the  churchyard  wall  to  resume  the  interrupted  ceremonial. 

It  must  here  be  observed  that  Joshua  had  remarkably  shaggy 
eyebrows,  overhanging  his  quick  eyes  like  pent-houses,  and  that 
it  was  the  wont  of  the  schoolboys  and  others  to  annoy  him 
by  drawing  their  fingers  significantly  over  their  own.  A  young 
sweep  sat  upon  the  churchyard  wall  to  witness  the  funeral,  and — 
young  imp  of  Satan  that  he  was ! — he  could  not  forbear  drawing 
a  thumb  and  forefinger  over  each  brow,  full  in  Joshua's  sight, 
just  as  he  reached  the  passage — "  I  heard  a  voice  from  heaven 
saying " 

The   shaggy  eyebrows    contracted  ;    he   roared   out — 

"Knock  that    little    black    rascal    off  the    church   wall!" 

The  mischievous  little  blackamoor  was  off,  with  a  beadle 
after  him ;  and  the  eccentric  chaplain,  whom  no  sense  of 
irreverence  seemed  to  strike,  concluded  the  ceremony  with  no 
further  interruption. 

At  its  close,  Mr.  Aspinall  and  another  mourner  took  the 
clergyman  to  task  for  his  disrespect  to  the  remains  of  the  deceased 
Mrs.  Aspinall,  whose  obsequies  had  been  so  irregularly  performed. 
They  said  nothing  of  disrespect  to  the  Divinity  profaned ;  their 
own  feelings  and  importance  had  been  outraged,  and  they  forgot 
all  else  even  by  the  dust  and  ashes  in  the  gaping  grave ;  and 
little  Laurence,  cloaked  and  hooded,  forgot  his  grief  in  watching 
the  chase  after  the  sweep. 


62  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

"  How  dare  you,  sir,  give  way  to  these  indecencies  at  the 
funeral  of  my  wife?  It  has  been  most  indecorous  and  insulting, 
both  to  the  dead  and  her  afflicted  relatives." 

"She's  had  Christian  burial,  hasn't  she?"  gruffly  interrogated 
Joshua. 

"Hardly,"  was  the  hesitating  answer. 

"  She's  been  laid  in  consecrated  ground,  and  I've  read  the 
burial  service  over  her ;  what  more  would  you  have  ?  Some 
folk  are  never  satisfied." 

Emptying  half  his  horehound  drops  into  the  hand  of  Master 
Laurence,  Joshua  turned  on  his  heel,  went  to  the  chapter-house 
to  disrobe,  and  then  back  over  the  wall  to  Mrs.  Clowes. 

"  I  say,  dame,  you  were  not  at  church  on   Sunday." 

"  No,   Parson   Brookes ;    I   was   in   Liverpool." 

"Oh!"   grunted   he,  "in   Liverpool.     Sugar-buying,   I  suppose?" 

"Yea;    an'   a   fine  joke   I've  had." 

"  Joshua  pricked  up  his  ears  ;   he  did  not  object  to  a  little  fun. 

"You  mun  know  I  thought  I'd  give  Branker,  the  new  sugar- 
broker,  a  trial,  an'  I  went  there  an'  asked  to  see  samples  ;  but 
the  young  whipper-snapper  of  a  salesman  looked  at  me  from 
top  to  toe,  an',  I  suppose,  reckoned  up  the  value  of  my  old 
black  bonnet,  my  kerchief  an'  mutch,  an'  my  old  stuff  dress, 
and  fancied  my  pockets  must  match  my  gown,  for  he  was  barely 
civil,  and  didn't  seem  to  care  for  the  trouble  o'  shovvin'  th' 
samples.  So  I  bade  my  young  man  good  day,  an'  said  I'd  call 
again." 

"  And  didn't,   I   suppose.      Just  like  a  woman,"  put  in  Joshua. 

"Oh,  yea,  I  did.  I  borrowed  my  landlady's  silk  gown  and 
fine  satin  bonnet,  and  put  on  my  lady's  manners ;  and  then  Mr. 
Whipper-snapper  could  show  his  samples,  and  his  best  manners, 
too.  But  when  I  gave  my  orders  by  tons,  and  not  hundred- 
weights, he  looked  at  me,  and  looked  again,  as  if  he  thought 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  63 

I'd  escaped  from  a  madhouse ;  an'  at  last  he  began  to  h'm  an' 
ah,  an'  talk  of  large  orders,  an'  cash  payment,  an'  references ; 
an'  I  told  him  to  make  out  th'  invoice  and  bring  it.  An' 
when  I  pulled  out  this  old  leather  pocket-book,  and  counted 
the  bank-notes  to  pay  him  down  on  the  nail,  good  gracious ! 
how  the  fellow  stared !  I  reckon  I'll  not  need  to  borrow  a 
silk  dress  when  I  give  my  next  order.  It  was  as  good  as  a  play." 

"  Um !  You  women-folk  think  yourselves  wonderfully  clever. 
But  come,  I  can't  waste  my  time  here.  (Joshua  had  heard  all 
he  went  for.)  Give  me  quarter-a-pound  of  humbugs ;  I  threw 
half  the  other  things  away,"  said  he. 

"I  don't  think  it's  much  you'll  throw  away,  Jotty,"  replied  the 
old  confectioner,  with  independent  familiarity,  as  she  weighed  and 
parcelled  the  sweets,  for  which  this  time  he  put  down  the  money. 

"  It's  much  you  know  about  it,  Mother  Clowes,"  he  jerked 
out,  as  if  throwing  the  words  at  her  over  his  shoulder,  as  he 
turned  to  leave  the  shop,  putting  the  package  in  one  of  the 
large  pockets  of  his  long  flap  waistcoat  as  he  went. 

His  own  house,  not  more  than  three  hundred  yards  away, 
adjoined  the  Grammar  School,  a  red  brick  building,  with  stone 
quoins,  now  darkened  by  time  and  smoke,  one  gable  of  which 
overhung  the  Irk ;  the  other,  pierced  for  four  small-paned 
windows,  almost  confronting  the  antique  Sun  Inn,  at  the  acute 
angle  of  Long  Millgate,  and  quite  overlooking  an  open  space, 
flanked  by  the  main  entrance  to  the  College.  From  this,  the 
east  wing  of  the  College,  it  is  separated  by  a  plain  iron  gateway 
and  palisades  on  the  Millgate  side,  and  by  a  low  wall  which 
serves  as  a  screen  from  the  river  on  the  other  side ;  the  enclosed 
space  between  rails,  wall,  College,  and  the  front  of  the  school 
serving  as  a  playground  for  such  scholars  as  were  willing  to  keep 
within  bounds.  It  was  divided  into  upper,  middle,  and  lower 
schools,  the  last  being  in  the  basement,  and  designed  for  elementary 


64  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

instruction.  The  high  and  middle  schools  together  occupied  the 
same  long  room  above  this.  Joshua  Brookes,  as  second  master, 
presided  over  the  middle  school,  and  surely  never  M.A.  had  so 
thankless  an  office.  He  was  placed  at  a  terrible  disadvantage  in 
the  school,  not  altogether  because  he  had  risen  from  its  lowest 
ranks — not  altogether  because  a  drunken,  foul-mouthed  cripple 
interfered  with  their  sports,  or  went  reeling  to  his  son's  domicile 
next  door — not  because  he  was  unduly  severe  ;  other  masters  were 
that — but  because  his  own  eager  thirst  for  knowledge  as  a  boy 
had  made  him  intolerant  towards  indolence,  incredulous  of 
incapacity;  and  his  constitutional  impatience  and  irritability 
made  his  harsh  voice  seem  harsher  when  he  reproved  a 
dullard.  He  lost  his  self-command,  and  with  that  went  his 
command  over  others.  Meaning  to  be  affable  to  the  poor, 
from  whose  ranks  he  sprang,  he  became  familiar ;  and  they 
reciprocated  the  familiarity  so  fully  as  to  draw  down  the 
contempt  of  his  confreres.  He  was  a  man  to  be  respected,  and 
they  slighted  him  ;  a  man  to  be  honoured,  and  they  snubbed 
him.  What  wonder,  then,  that  eccentricities  grew  like  barnacles 
on  a  ship's  keel,  or  that  the  boys  failed  in  obedience  and 
respect  to  a  master  when  their  elders  set  them  the  example  ? 

This  defence  of  a  misunderstood  man  has  not  taken  up  a 
tithe  of  the  time  he  gave  to  his  refractory  class,  to  whom  he 
went  straightway  from  the  confectioner's,  whose  "humbugs"  had 
melted  considerably,  not  wholly  down  his  own  throat,  before  the 
hour  when  the  boys  closed  their  Latin  Grammars  and  Greek 
Lexicons,  and  poured  as  if  they  were  mad  down  the  steps,  and 
through  the  gate,  to  the  road.  Yet  even  the  sweets  he  gave  to 
the  attentive  did  not  conciliate  ;  they  only  made  the  intractable 
more  defiant  ;  and  the  recipients  felt  they  were  bribed. 

Warned  by  the  uproar  of  a  large  school  in  motion,  as  well 
as  by  the  long-cased  clock,  Tabitha,  his  one  servant,  had  her 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  65 

master's  tea  ready  for  him  the  instant  he  came  in  from  the 
school,^'as  he  generally  did,  fagged  and  jaded,  with  the  growl 
of  a  baited  bear. 

That  day  he  simply  put  his  head  into  the  house,  and  bawled, 
"Tea  ready,  Tab?"  and  without  waiting  for  an  answer,  went 
on,  "Keep  it  hot  till  I  get  back;"  then,  closing  the  door,  took 
his  way  eastwards  down  Long  Millgate.  His  journey  was  not 
a  long  one.  It  ended  at  the  bottom  of  a  yard  where  a  sad, 
pale-faced  young  woman  was  switching  monotonously  at  a  mass 
of  downy  cotton,  and  listening  at  the  same  time  to  the  equally 
monotonous  drawl  of  a  youngster  in  the  throes  of  monosyllabic 
reading. 

"  Get  laming,  lad ! — get  laming !  Larning's  a  great  thing. 
Yo'  shan  read  i'  this  big  picture-book  when  you  can  spell 
gradely, '  had  been  Simon's  precept  and  inducement ;  and  Jabez, 
to  whom  that  big  pictorial  Bible  was  a  mysterious,  unexplored 
crypt,  did  try  with  all  his  little  might. 

"J-a-c-k — Jack,  w-a-s — was,  a  g-o-o-d — good,  b-o " 

"And  I  hope  you're  a  good  boy,  as  well  as  Jack,"  said 
Joshua  Brookes  abruptly,  as  he  put  his  head  into  the  room,  and 
put  a  stop  to  the  lesson  at  the  same  time.  "  But,  hey-day " 
(observing  the  swollen  nose  and  bruised  forehead),  "  You've  been 
in  the  wars.  Good  boys  don't  fight." 

"  Then  what  did  Bill  Barnes  throw  stones  at  ar  pussy  for  ? 
Good  boys  dunnot  hurt  kittlins,"  said  Jabez,  nothing  daunted. 

Bess  explained. 

"  Um  ! "  quoth  Joshua,  when  she  had  finished,  "  he's  fond  of  his 
kitten,  is  he?"  and  drawing  Jabez  towards  him  by  the  shoulder, 
with  one  finger  uplifted  as  a  caution,  he  looked  down  on  the 
shrinking  child,  and  said,  impressively — 

"  Never  fight  if  you  can  help  it,  Jabez  ;  but  if  you  fight  to  save 
a  poor  dumb  animal  from  ill-usage,  or  to  protect  the  weak  against 


66  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

the  strong,  Jotty  Brucks  is  not  the  man  to  blame  you.  Here, 
lad,"  and  into  the  pinafore  of  Jabez  went  the  remainder  of  the 
"humbugs." 

He  patted  the  boy  on  the  head,  bade  him  get  on  with  his 
reading,  he  did  not  know  what  good  fortune  might  come  of  it,  told 
him  to  come  regularly  to  church,  to  love  God  and  God's  creatures, 
and  went  away,  leaving  Bess  to  prepare  her  father's  porridge  (tea  was 
from  twelve  to  sixteen  shillings  a  pound,  and  beyond  their  reach). 

Almost  on   the  threshold   he   encountered   Simon. 

"  Can't  you  keep  that  young  sprig  out  of  mischief  ?  If  he 
begins  fighting  and  quarrelling  at  six  years  old,  what  will  he  do 
when  he  is  sixteen  ? "  he  cried,  gruffly,  as  he  brushed  past  the 
tanner,  and  was  far  up  the  yard  before  the  man  could  think  of 
a  reply. 

A  couple  of  young  pigeons  were  sent  for  Jabez  about  a  week 
after,  with  a  large  bag  of  stale  cakes  and  bread  to  feed  them 
with.  The  name  of  the  sender  was  unknown,  but  anyone 
acquainted  with  the  habits  of  Joshua  Brookes  (who  contracted  for 
Mrs.  Clowes'  waste  pastry,  to  fill  the  crops  of  his  own  feathered 
colony)  would  not  have  been  troubled  to  guess. 

Simon  stroked  his  raspy  chin,  and  seemed  dubious,  cost  of 
keep  being  a  question  ;  but  Jabez  looked  so  wistful,  his  foster- 
father  borrowed  tools  and  answered  the  appeal  by  making  a 
triangular  cote  for  them,  and  Jabez  found  fresh  occupation  in 
their  care.  Yet  occupation  was  not  lacking,  young  as  he  was. 
He  could  fetch  and  carry,  run  short  errands,  and  help  Bess  to 
clean.  Their  living-room  no  longer  waited  a  week  to  be  swept 
and  dusted,  Jabez  did  it  every  day,  standing  on  a  chair  to  reach 
the  top  of  the  bureau,  where  lay  the  cynosure  of  his  young  eyes. 
He  still  took  his  Sunday  lessons  in  field  or  stream  with  Simon, 
and  through  the  week  clambered  up  from  monosyllables  to 
dissyllables  with  Bess, 


CHAPTER    THE    EIGHTH. 


THE    BLUE    COAT    SCHOOL. 

HE  children  of  the  poor 
begin  early  to  earn  their 
bread.  Legislature  has 
stepped  in  to  regulate  the 
age  and  hours  for  labour 
in  manufacturing  districts, 
and  to  provide  education 
for  the  humblest.  Jabez 
Clegg  was  not  born  in 
these  blissful  times,  and  he 
only  narrowly  escaped  the 
common  lot. 

He  was  not  eight  years 
old,  yet  Simon,  on  whom 
war-prices  pressed  as 
heavily  as  on  his  neigh- 
bours, began  to  discuss  with  Bess  the  necessity  for  sending  the  lad 
to  Simpson's  factory  (where  Arkwright's  machinery  was  first 
set  in  motion). 

"  He   mun    goo    as    sune   as    the    new   year    taks    a   fair   grip," 
decided  Simon,  and   1805  was  at  its  last  gasp  as  he  said  it. 

But    the   new   year   brought  Jabez  a   reprieve   by  the  uncoflrtly 
hands   of  Joshua  Brookes.-     Meeting   Simon    and    Jabez  at  a  stall 


EXIT  FROM  COLLEGE  YARD. 


68  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

in  the  Apple  Market,  where,  the  better  to  bargain,  he  had  laid 
down  a  pile  of  old  classical  school-books  (Joshua  was  a  collector 
of  these,  which  he  retailed  again  to  the  boys  at  prices  varying 
with  his  mood,  or  his  estimate  of  the  purchaser's  pocket),  he 
accosted  the  former. 

"  Well,  old  Leathershanks,  what  are  you  going  to  make  of  young 
Cheat-the-fishes  there?  I  suppose  he's  to  follow  your  own  trade, 
he  began  to  tan  hides  so  early?"  And  the  glance  which  shot 
from  under  his  shaggy  brows  caused  the  boy  to  blush,  and  shrink 
behind  his  protector. 

Simon's  eyes  twinkled,  but  he  shook  his   head    as  he  answered : 

"Nay,  Parson  Brucks,  we'n  thowt  o'  sendin'  him  t'  th'  cotton 
fac'try ;  but  it  fair  goos  agen  th'  grain  to  send  th'  little  chap 
through  th'  streets  to  wark  Winter  an'  Summer,  weet  or  dry, 
afore  th'  sun's  oop  an'  abeawt  his  wark.  But  we  conno'  keep 
him  bout  it — toimes  are  so  bad." 

"  H'm !  Then  what  a  stupid  old  leather-head  you  must  be  not 
to  think  of  the  College,  where  he'd  be  kept  and  fed  and  clothed 
and  educated  ! — educated^  man,  do  you  hear  ? " 

Simon  heard,  and  his  eyes  again  twinkled  and  winked  at  the 
new  idea  presented  to  him. 

"And  'prenticed!"  he  echoed,  with  a  long-drawn,  gasping  breath. 

"Ay,  and  apprenticed." 

The  parson,  cramming  his  pockets  with  apples,  for  which  he  had 
higgled  with  much  persistence,  handed  one  to  Jabez  with  the 
question — 

"  How  would  you  like  to  be  a  College  boy,  Jabez,  and  wear  a 
long  blue  coat,  like  that  fellow  yonder "  (pointing  to  a  boy  then 
crossing  the  market  on  an  errand),  "  and  learn  to  write  and  cypher, 
as  well  as  to  read  ? " 

*  If  you  please'n,  aw'd  loike  it  moore  nor  eawt."  His  animated 
face  was  a  clearer  answer  than  his  words. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  gg 

Joshua  then  read  the  lad  a  brief  homily  to  the  effect  that  only 
good  and  honourable  boys  could  find  admission,  winding  up  with — 

"If  you're  a  very  good  lad,  I'll  see  what  can  be  done  for 
you." 

He  interrupted  thanks  with — 

"Easter's  very  near,  Sim,  so  you'll  have  to  stir  your  stumps  to 
prove  that  our  honourable  young  friend  came  honourably  into  the 
world.  I'll  get  the  forms  and  fill  them  up  for  you,  and  his 
baptismal  register  too." 

He  snatched  up  his  books  and  was  off,  the  tassel  of  his 
collegiate  cap  and  the  cassock  he  wore  flying  loose  as  he  hurried 
away  muttering  to  himself — 

"  What  an  old  fool  I  am  to  bother  about  the  lad  !  I  daresay 
he'll  turn  round  and  sting  me  in  the  end,  like  the  rest  of  the  snakes 
I  have  warmed.  As  great  an  idiot  as  old  Dame  Clowes !  " 

Chetham's  College,  or  Hospital,  is  a  long,  low,  ancient  stone 
edifice,  built  on  the  rock  above  the  mouth  of  the  Irk,  with  two 
arms  of  unequal  length,  stretching  towards  church  and  town,  and 
embracing  a  large  quadrangle  used  as  a  playground,  which  has 
for  its  fourth  and  southern  boundary  a  good  useful  garden. 

It  is  needless  to  grope  upward  from  the  time  when  the  Saxon 
Theyn  built  a  fortified  residence  on  its  site;  sufficient  for  us 
that  Thomas  de  la  Warr,  youngest  son  of  the  feudal  baron  of 
Manchester,  was  brought  up  to  the  Church,  and  in  the  fourteenth 
century  inducted  into  the  Rectory  of  Manchester,  his  father  being 
patron.  His  elder  brother  dying  at  the  close  of  the  century, 
the  rector  (a  pious  Churchman)  became  baron.  And  then  he 
put  his  power  and  wealth  to  sacerdotal  uses.  He  petitioned  the 
king,  obtained  a  grant  to  collegiate  Christ  Church,  erected  the 
College,  endowed  it  with  lands ;  and  here  at  his  death  the 
Warden  of  the  Collegiate  Church  had  his  residence.  Of  these 
wardens,  the  celebrated  Dr.  Dee,  whose  explorations  into  alchemy 


70  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

and  other  occult  sciences  brought  him  into  trouble  with  Queen 
Elizabeth,  was  one ;  and  Dr.  Dee's  room  is  still  extant — in 
occupation  of  the  governor. 

In  1580,  at  Crumpsall  Hall,  Humphrey  Chetham  was  born; 
and  he,  a  prosperous  dealer  in  fustians,  never  marrying,  at  his 
own  expense  fed  and  clothed  a  number  of  poor  boys  ;  and,  by 
his  will,  not  only  bequeathed  a  large  sum  of  money  to  be 
expended  in  the  foundation  and  endowment  of  a  hospital  for 
the  maintenance,  education,  and  apprenticing  of  forty  poor  boys 
for  ever,  but  one  thousand  pounds  to  be  expended  in  a  library, 
free  to  the  public — the  first  free  library  in  Britain. 

The  estate  was  vested  in  feoffees,  and  with  them  lay  the 
power  alike  to  elect  boys  and  officials.  From  the  townships  of 
Manchester,  Droylsden,  Crumpsall,  Bolton-le-Moors,  and  Turton, 
the  boys  were  to  be  elected  between  the  ages  of  six  and  ten, 
and  were  required  to  be  of  honest,  industrious  parents,  and 
neither  illegitimate  nor  diseased  ;  and  baptismal  registers  had  to 
be  produced.  They  had  to  be  well  maintained,  well  trained, 
and  carefully  apprenticed  at  fourteen,  a  fee  of  four  pounds  (a 
large  sum  in  Humphrey  Chetham's  time)  being  given  with  them. 
The  churchwardens  and  overseers  were  to  prepare  lists  of  boys, 
doubling  the  number  of  vacancies,  stating  their  respective  claims, 
which  lists  they  had  to  sign. 

Easter  Monday  was  the  period  for  election,  after  which  the 
feoffees  dined  together  in  Dr.  Dee's  quaintly-carved  room. 

Joshua  Brookes  was  as  good  as  his  word.  He  procured  a 
blank  form  from  the  governor,  and,  Simon  being  no  great 
scholar,  filled  it  in  for  him.  He  found  him  the  baptismal 
register  without  charging  the  regulation  shilling,  got  the  name 
of  Jabez  inserted  in  the  churchwardens'  list,  and  such  influence 
as  he  had  with  feoffees  he  exerted  to  the  utmost,  for  the  case 
was  one  involving  doubt  and  difficulty. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  ji 

Nor  had  Simon  Clegg  been  idle.  He  and  his  crony,  Matthew, 
scoured  Smedley  and  Crumpsall,  and  more  successful  than  in 
their  quest  for  Tom  Hulme,  discovered  the  nurse  who  presided 
at  the  birth  of  Jabez.  Her  testimony,  so  far  as  it  went,  was 
important.  He  had  interested  both  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Clough  in 
the  election  of  the  foundling,  and  where  the  influence  of  the 
gentleman  failed,  that  of  the  lady  prevailed  ;  so  that  when  the 
important  Easter  Monday  arrived,  two-thirds  of  the  feoffees  were 
fully  acquainted  with  his  peculiar  case,  and  more  or  less  impressed 
in  his  favour. 

It  was  on  the  i8th  of  April,  bright,  sunny,  joyous.  Compared 
with  its  present  proportions,  Manchester  then  was  but  as  a  cameo 
brooch  on  a  mantle  of  green  ;  and  that  green  was  already  starred 
with  daisies,  buttercups,  primroses,  and  cowslips.  By  wells  and 
brooks,  daffodil  and  jonquil  hung  their  heads  and  breathed  out 
perfume.  Bush  and  tree  put  out  pale  buds  and  fans  of  promise. 
The  tit-lark  sang,  the  cuckoo — to  use  a  village  phrase — had 
"  eaten  up  the  mud ; "  and  the  town  was  alive  with  holiday- 
makers  from  all  the  country  round  about. 

It  was  the  great  College  anniversary,  not  only  election  day,  but 
one  set  apart  for  friends  to  visit  Blue-coat  boys  already  on  the  found- 
ation, and  for  the  curious  public  to  inspect  the  Chetham  Museum. 

The  main  entrance  in  Millgate  (said  to  be  arched  with  the 
jaw-bone  of  a  whale)  and  the  smaller  gate  on  Hunt's  Bank, 
were  both  thrown  open.  A  stream  of  people  of  all  grades,  in 
festival  array,  poured  in  and  out,  and  College  cap  and  gown 
seemed  to  be  ubiquitous. 

The  pale,  sad  widow  or  widower,  holding  an  orphan  boy  by 
the  trembling  hand,  the  uncle  or  next  of  kin  to  the  doubly- 
orphaned  candidate,  were  there,  standing  in  a  long  line  ranged 
against  the  building,  and  representing  hopes  and  fears  and 
eventualities  little  heeded  by  the  shifting  stream  of  gazers. 


73  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

For  the  previous  week  Mrs.  Clowes  and  her  assistants  had  been 
working  night  and  day;  her  shop  was  in  a  state  of  siege.  Every 
boy,  and  every  boy's  friend,  seemed  to  have  pocket-money  to 
spend,  and  to  want  to  spend  it  over  her  counter.  Then  it  was 
the  great  wedding-day  of  the  year,  and  the  churchyard  swarmed 
like  a  hive ;  from  every  one  of  the  many  public-houses  round 
College  and  Church,  music  and  mirth,  clattering  feet,  and  loud- 
voiced  laughter  issued.  "The  Apple  Tree,"  "The  Pack  Horse," 
"The  Ring  o1  Bells,"  "The  Blackamoor's  Head,"  were  filled  to 
repletion  with  wedding  guests ;  whilst  "  The  College  Inn "  and 
the  old  "  Sun  Inn "  held  a  less  boisterous  quota  of  the 
Collegians'  friends  and  relatives. 

On  those  wet  days  when  outdoor  play  was  impossible,  the 
boys,  besides  darning  their  stockings,  occupied  their  spare  hours 
in  carving  spoons  and  apple-scrapers  out  of  bone,  in  working  balls  and 
pincushions  in  fanciful  devices  with  coloured  worsted,  and  a  stitch 
locally  known  as  "  colleging  ; "  and  with  these,  on  Easter  Monday 
and  at  Whitsuntide,  they  reaped  a  harvest  of  pocket-money,  having 
liberty  to  offer  them  for  sale.  And  when  it  is  remembered  that  our 
notable  female  ancestors,  poor  and  rich,  wore  indoors  a  pincushion 
and  sheathed  scissors  suspended  at  their  sides,  it  is  not  to  be 
wondered  that  these  found  ready  purchasers  as  memorials  of  the  visit. 

But  in  that  College  Yard  were  anxious  and  expectant  as  well 
as  buoyant  faces.  And  there  in  that  line,  waiting  to  be  called 
when  their  turn  came,  stood  Jabez  between  Simon  Clegg  and  Bess, 
with  Matthew  and  the  nurse  on  either  hand.  And  ever  and  anon 
their  eyes  went  up  to  the  oriel  window  which  faced  the  main 
entrance,  for  in  the  room  it  lighted  the  arbiters  of  the  boy's 
destiny  sat  in  judgment  on  some  other  orphan's  claim.  At  length 
the  summons  came  for  "Jabez  Clegg." 

With  palpitating  hearts — for  any  body  of  men  with  irresponsible 
powers  is  an  awful  tribunal — they  passed  under  the  arched  portal 


^x 

READING    ROOM,    CHETHAM    LIBRARY. 


1 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  73 

at  the  western  angle  of  the  building,  following  their  guide  past  the 
doors  of  the  great  kitchen  on  the  right  hand,  and  the  boys'  refectory 
and  Dr.  Dee's  room  on  the  left,  up  the  wide  stone  staircase, 
with  its  massive  carved  oak  balusters,  along  the  gallery,  at  once 
library  and  museum,  where  gaping  holiday-folk  followed  a  Blue- 
coat  cicerone  past  shelves  and  glass  cases,  and  compartments 
separated  for  readers'  quiet  study  by  carven  book-shelf  screens, 
hearing,  but  heeding  little  of  the  parrot-roll  the  boys  checked  off: 
"  Here's  Oliver  Crummle's  sword ;  theer's  a  loadstone ;  theer's  a 
hairy  mon  ;  theer's  the  skeleton  of  a  mon  ; "  and  so  forth,  but 
following  their  own  guide  to  the  nail-studded  oaken  door  of  the 
feoffees'  room — that  door  which  might  open  to  hope,  only  to  close 
on  disappointment. 

The  feoffees'  room — now  the  reading-room  of  the  library — 
deserves  more  than  a  passing  notice.  It  is  a  large,  square,  antique 
chamber,  with  a  deeply-recessed  oriel  window,  opposite  the  door, 
containing  a  table  and  seats  for  readers.  There  are  carved  oak 
buffets  of  ancient  date,  ponderous  chairs,  and  still  more  ponderous 
tables,  one  of  which  is  said  to  contain  as  many  pieces  as  there 
are  days  in  the  year.  Dingy-looking  portraits  of  eminent 
Lancashire  divines  stare  at  you  from  the  walls ;  but  the  left- 
hand  wall  contains  alone  the  benevolent  presentment  of  Humphrey 
Chetham,  the  large-hearted,  clear-headed  founder.  Its  place  is 
over  the  wide  chimneypiece,  which  holds  an  ample  grate  ;  and  on 
either  hand  it  is  flanked  by  the  carved  effigy  of  a  bird,  the  one  a 
pelican  feeding  its  young  brood  with  its  own  blood,  the  other 
a  cock,  which  is  said  (and  truly)  to  crow  when  it  smells  roast 
beef. 

But  we  smell  the  feoffees'  dinner,  and  must  not  delay  the 
progress  of  Jabez  and  his  friends.  A  large  body  of  feoffees 
were  present,  many  in  the  uniforms  of  their  special  volunteer 
regiments. 


74  ^HE   MANCHESTER    MAN. 

"  So  this  is  the  little  fellow  who  was  picked  up  asleep  in  a  cradle 
during  the  flood  of  August,  1799,"  observed  rather  than  inquired 
one  of  the  gentlemen,  who  appeared  as  spokesman. 

"Yoi,  yo'r  honours,"  answered  Simon,  making  a  sort  of 
bow. 

"  Who  can  bear  witness  to  that  ?  " 

"Aw  con" — "An"  aw  con,"  responded  Simon  and  Matt  Cooper 
in  a  breath.  "It  wur  uz  as  got  him  eawt  o'  th'  wayter." 

"Anyone  else?" 

Bess  stepped  forward  modestly. 

"  He  wur  put  i'  moi  arms  on  Tanners'  Bridge,  an'  aw've  browt 
him  oop  ivver  sin'." 

"  Have  you  never  sought  for  his  parents  ? " 

"Ay,  mony  a  toime.  Matt  an'  me  have  spent  mony  a  day  i' 
seekin'  'em,"  said  Simon  promptly,  an'  we  could  fand  no  moore 
than  that  papper  tells" — referring  to  a  sheet  in  the  questioning 
feoffee's  hand. 

"  Then  how  do  you  date  the  boy's  age  with  such  precision  ? '' 

The  nurse  now  sidled  confidently  to  the  front. 

"If  it  please  your  honour's  worship,  aw  wur  called  to  stiff- 
backed  Nan's  dowter  in  the  last  pinch,  when  hoo  wur  loike  to  die, 
an'  that  little  chap  wur  born  afore  aw  left,  an'  that  wur  o'  th' 
fifth  o'  May,  seventeen  hunderd  and  nointy-noine.  Aw  know  it, 
fur  aw  broke  mi  arm  th'  varry  next  day." 

"  And   the  mother  died  ?  " 

"Yea! — afore  the   week   wur  eawt." 

"And  you  think  she  was  lawfully  married?  Where  was  her 
husband  ?  " 

"  Ay !  that's  it !  Hoo  had  a  guinea-goold  weddin'-ring  on ; 
an'  owd  Nan  said  it  wur  a  sad  thing  th'  lass  had  ever  got 
wedded,  an'  moore  o'  the  same  soort.  An'  aw  geet  eawt  o'  her 
that  they'n  bin  wedded  at  Crumpsall,  an'  a'  th'  neebors  knew 


THE   MANCHESTER   MAN.  75 

as  th'  husbant    had  had  a  letter  to  fatch  him  to  Liverpool,  an' 
had   niver  come   back.      Onybody  i'   Smedley  knows  that!" 

"And   you   think   they   were   honest,   industrious    people?" 

"  Ay !  that  they  were,  but  rayther  stiff  i'  th'  joints,  yo'  know 
— seemed  to  think  theirsel's  too  good  to  talk  to  folk  like ;  or, 
mebbe  we'd  ha'  known  th'  lad's  neame  an'  o'  belongin'  to 
him.  They  owed  nobbody  nowt,  an'  aw  wur  paid  fur  moi 
job." 

Jabez  was  called  forward  and  examined,  and  he  came  pretty 
well  out  of  the  fire.  They  found  that  he  could  read  a  little, 
knew  part  of  his  catechism,  and  they  saw  that  he  was  a  well- 
behaved,  intelligent  boy,  with  truthful  dark  grey  eyes  and  a 
reflective  brow. 

There  was  a  long  and  animated  discussion,  during  which  the 
boy  and  his  friends  were  bidden  to  retire.  It  was  contended 
that  the  marriage  of  the  boy's  parents  was  not  proven — that  his 
very  name  was  dubious, — and  that  the  founder's  will  was  specific 
on  that  head. 

Then  one  of  Mrs.  Clough's  friends  rose  and  grew  eloquent. 
He  asked  if  they  were  to  interpret  the  will  of  the  great  and 
benevolent  man,  whose  portrait  looked  down  upon  them,  by  the 
spirit  or  by  the  letter?  If  they  themselves  did  not  feel  that  the 
boy  was  eligible,  as  the  nurse's  testimony  went  to  prove  ?  That 
this  was  a  case  peculiarly  marked  out  for  their  charitable 
construction.  And  he  wound  up  by  inquiring  if  they  thought 
Humphrey  Chetham  would  expect  his  representatives  to  be  less 
humane,  less  charitable,  less  conscientious  in  dealing  with  a  bounty 
not  their  own,  than  that  poor  struggling,  hard-working  tanner  and 
his  daughter,  who  had  maintained  and  cherished  the  orphan  in 
spite  of  cruelly  hard  times,  and  still  more  cruel  slander.  And 
then  he  told,  as  an  episode,  what  Sally  Cooper  had  confessed, 
and  how  and  why  Bess  had  lost  her  lover. 


76  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

This  turned  the  quivering  scale.  "Jabez  Clegg  and  his  friends" 
were  called  in ;  the  verdict  which  changed  the  current  of  his  life 
was  pronounced — Jabez  Clegg  was  a  Blue-coat  boy ! 

Before  the  night  was  out,  while  the  flood-gates  or  all  their 
hearts  were  open,  Matthew  Cooper,  though  nearly  twenty  years 
her  senior,  asked  Bess  to  be  his  wife! 


CHAPTER    THE    NINTH. 

THE    SNAKE. 

*W — *      OWEVER  ambitious  either  Jabez  or  his  kind  fosterers 

Ir    ^»      had   been    to  see  him   a  Blue-coat    boy,  the    parting 

J^^    £      between   them   was   a  terrible  wrench.     They  were  to 

him   all   the  friends  or  parents    he    had   ever    known. 

Then  there  were  his  playmates  in  the  yard,  with  liberty  to 
run  in  and  out  at  will ;  and  lastly,  there  were  his  dumb  pets — 
his  kitten  (grown  to  a  cat),  his  pigeons,  and  the  lame  linnet, 
hopping  from  perch  to  finger,  and  paying  him  for  his  love  with 
the  sweetest  of  songs. 

He  was  not  more  stunned  by  the  noise  and  Easter  Monday 
bustle  in  the  College  Yard,  or  more  awed  by  the  imposing 
presence  of  Governor  Terry  and  the  feoffees,  than  by  the  magnitude, 
order,  and  antique  grandeur  of  the  building  henceforth  to  be  his 
home.  Nevertheless,  wide  open  as  the  gates  were  for  the  day, 
he  felt  that  they  would  close,  and  shut  him  in  among  the  cold 
strong  walls  and  strangers,  never  to  see  his  pets  or  his  loving 
friends  again  until  Whitsuntide  should  bring  another  holiday. 

They  older,  more  experienced,  with  a  better  knowledge  of  all 
the  boy  would  gain — all  the  privation  and  premature  labour  he 
would  escape — felt  only  how  dull  their  humble  home  would  be 
without  the  willing  feet  and  hands,  the  smiling  face,  and  the 
cheerful  voice  of  the  sturdy  little  fellow  who  for  more  than  seven 
years  had  been  as  their  own  child. 


78  THE   MANCHESTER    MAN. 

He  had  given  his  last  charge  respecting  his  furry  and 
feathered  brood,  exchanged  the  last  clinging  embrace  under  the 
dark  arch,  then  tore  away  in  quest  of  a  deserted  corner,  where 
he  could  hide  the  tears  he  could  not  wholly  restrain. 

At  first  the  new  dress  of  which  he  was  so  proud,  the  yellow 
stockings  and  clasped  shoes  in  place  of  clogs,  the  yellow  baize 
petticoat,  the  long-skirted  blue  overcoat  or  gown,  the  blue 
muffin-cap,  the  white  clerical  band  at  the  throat  (all  neat, 
and  fresh,  and  unpatched  as  they  were),  felt  awkward  and 
uncomfortable — the  long  petticoat  especially  incommoded  him. 
But  in  a  few  days  this  wore  off.  There  were  other  lads  equally 
strange  and  unaccustomed  to  robes  and  rules.  Fellow-feeling 
drew  them  towards  each  other,  and  with  the  wonderful  adaptability 
of  childhood,  they  fell  into  the  regular  grooves,  and  were  as 
much  at  home  as  the  eldest  there  in  less  than  a  fortnight.  And 
from  the  Chetham  Gallery  in  the  Old  Church  he  could  see  and 
be  seen  by  Simon  and  Bess  on  Sabbath  mornings  from  the  free 
seats  in  the  aisle,  and  that  contented  them. 

The  training  and  education  of  the  Chetham  College  boys 
was,  and  is,  conducted  on  principles  best  adapted  for  boys 
expected  to  fight  their  way  upwards  in  the  world.  They  were 
not  encumbered  with  a  number  of  "  ologies "  and  "  isms "  (the 
highest  education  did  not  stand  on  a  par  then  with  the  moderate 
ones  of  this  day) ;  their  range  of  books  and  studies  was  limited. 
Reading,  writing,  and  arithmetic,  sound  and  practical  information 
alone  were  imparted,  so  much  as  was  needed  to  fit  the  dullest 
for  an  ordinary  tradesman,  and  supply  the  persevering  and 
intelligent  with  a  fulcrum  and  a  lever.  Nor  did  their  education 
end  with  their  lessons  in  the  schoolroom,  nor  was  it  drawn  from 
books  and  slates  alone. 

Their  meals  were  regular,  their  diet  pure  and  ample,  but 
plain.  They  rose  at  six,  began  the  day  with  prayer,  and  retired 


THE   MANCHESTER    MAN.  79 

to  rest  at  eight.  Besides  their  duties  in  the  schoolroom,  they 
darned  their  own  stockings,  made  their  own  beds,  helped  the 
servants  to  keep  their  rooms  clean,  and  six  of  the  elder  boys 
were  set  apart  to  run  errands  and  carry  messages  beyond  the 
precincts  of  the  College. 

Strength  of  muscle  and  limb  were  gained  in  the  open  courtyard 
in  such  games  as  trap  and  football ;  patience  and  ingenuity  had 
scope  in  the  bead  purses,  the  carved  apple-scoops  and  marrow- 
spoons,  the  worsted  balls  and  pincushions  they  made  to  fill  their 
leisure  hours  indoors.  There  was  no  idleness.  Their  very  play 
had  its  purpose. 

Let  us  set  Jabez  Clegg  under  the  kind  guardianship  oi 
Christopher  Terry,  the  Governor,  and  under  the  direct  supervision 
of  the  Reverend  John  Gresswell,  the  schoolmaster,  to  con  his 
Mavor,  and  make  pothooks-and-ladles,  on  a  form  in  the  large 
schoolroom  at  the  east  end  of  the  College,  and  to  rise,  step  by 
step,  up  the  first  difficult  rungs  of  that  long  ladder  of  learning 
which  may  indeed  rest  on  our  common  earth,  but  which  reaches 
far  above  the  clouds  and  human  ken. 

Christmas  and  Midsummer  vacations  came  and  went,  so  did 
those  red-letter  days  of  his  College  life,  Easter  and  Whitsuntide, 
when  he  was  free  to  rush  to  the  old  yard,  so  near  at  hand,  and 
after  hugging  Bess  and  Simon,  whom  he  astonished  with  his 
learning,  could  assure  himself  his  dumb  family  had  been  well- 
cared  for. 

And  if  those  passing  seasons  traced  deeper  lines  on  Simon's 
brow,  gave  more  womanly  solidity  to  Bess's  form  and  character, 
they  brought  no  change  the  foundling  could  mark.  Tom  Hulme's 
whereabouts  was  still  undiscovered.  Matt  Cooper  was  still  a 
widower.  But  they  and  his  masters  could  note  the  steady  progress 
he  made,  and  his  chivalrous  love  of  truth  and  sense  of  honour 
shown  in  many  ways  in  little  things.  Yet  there  was  one  event  a 


8o  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

grief  to  him.     His  little  brown  linnet   pined  for  its  young  friend, 
and  died  before  the  first  Whitsunday  came. 

He  was  not  much  over  ten  years  old  when  he  was  proved  to 
possess  courage,  as  well  as  truth  and  honour. 

For  some  time  Nancy,  the  cook,  had  observed  that  the  cream 
was  skimmed  surreptitiously  from  the  milk-pans  in  the  dairy,  that 
the  milk  itself  was  regularly  abstracted,  and  she  was  loud  in 
complaint.  She  could  scarcely  find  cream  enough  to  set  on  the 
governor's  table,  and  servants  and  schoolboys  were  in  turn  accused 
of  being  the  depredators. 

Complaints  were  made  to  Mr.  Terry,  servants  and  boys  were 
alike  interrogated  and  watched,  and  punished  on  suspicion,  but 
nothing  could  be  proved,  and  no  precautions  could  save  the  milk. 
The  lofty  and  spacious  kitchen  had  its  entrance  almost  under  the 
porch,  and  close  beside  it  was  a  flight  of  stone  steps  leading  to  the 
dairy,  a  cellar  below  the  kitchen,  lit  by  a  small  window  high  up 
on  the  side  towards  the  river,  and  of  course  opposite  to  the  steps. 

Stone  tables  occupied  the  two  other  sides,  on  which  were 
ranged  a  number  of  wide,  shallow  pans  of  good  milk.  In  the 
extreme  corner,  at  right  angles  with  the  door  at  the  head  of 
the  stairs,  was  another  entrance,  a  small  oaken  door  in  a  Gothic 
frame,  which  opened  on  another  and  shorter  flight  of  steps,  cut 
in  the  rock  and  washed  by  the  river,  which  sometimes  rose 
and  beat  against  the  cellar-door  for  admission,  beat  so  oft  and 
importunately  as  to  wear  away  the  oak  where  it  met  the  floor. 

It  was  nearly  breakfast  time.  Long  rows  of  wooden  bowls 
and  trenchers  were  ranged  on  the  white  kitchen-table.  The 
oatmeal  porridge  was  ready  to  pour  out.  The  cook  ran  short  of 
milk.  Through  a  window  overlooking  the  yard  she  espied  Jabez, 
whip  in  hand,  driving  a  biped  team  of  play-horses. 

"Jabez,  Jabez  Clegg!"  she  called  out  at  the  pitch  of  her 
voice,  "come  hither." 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  gi 

Down  went  the  reins,  and  the  prancing  steeds  proceeded 
without  a  driver. 

"  Fetch  a  can  of  milk  from  the  cellar,  Jabez ;  an'  look  sharp, 
An'  see  as  yo'  dunna  drink  none!" 

"I   never  do,"  said   Jabez,  not  overpleased  at  the  imputation. 

"Well,  see  as   yo'  don't,  for  some  on  yo'  do." 

Jabez  took  the  bright  tin  can,  without  putting  down  the  whip, 
and  descended  the  unguarded  cellar-stairs,  whistling  as  he  went. 
He  gave  a  jump  down  the  last  few  steps,  and  to  his  utter 
surprise,  I  cannot  say  dismay,  saw  that  he  had  disturbed  a  great 
greenish-brown  snake,  spotted  with  black  and  having  a  yellowish 
ring  round  its  neck.  It  lay  coiled  on  the  stone  table  opposite 
to  him,  and  with  its  head  elevated  above  the  rim  of  a  milk-pan, 
was  taking  its  morning  draught,  and  in  so  doing  reckoning 
without  its  host. 

"Oh!  you're  the  thief,  are  you,  Mr.  Snake?  It's  you've  robbed 
us  of  our  milk,  and  got  us  boys  thrashed  for  it!"  cried  Jabez, 
without  a  thought  of  danger,  planting  himself  between  the  culprit 
and  the  small  postern  door,  as  the  snake,  gliding  from  the  slab, 
turned  thither  for  exit,  putting  out  its  forked  tongue  and  hissing 
at  him  as  it  came. 

Without  thought  or  consideration — without  a  cry  of  alarm  to 
those  above,  he  struck  at  the  threatening  foe  with  his  whip  ;  and 
as  the  resentful  snake  darted  at  him,  jumped  nimbly  aside,  and 
struck  and  struck  again ;  and  as  the  angry  snake  writhed  and 
twisted,  and  again  and  again  darted  its  frightful  head  at  him  with 
distended  jaws,  he  whipped  and  whipped  away  as  though  a  top 
and  not  a  formidable  reptile  had  been  before  him. 

Cook,  out  of  patience,  called  "Jabez  Clegg!"  more  than 
once,  in  anything  but  satisfactory  tones ;  and  then,  patience 
exhausted,  came  to  the  top  of  the  dairy  stairs.  Then  she  heard 
Jabez,  as  if  addressing  some  one,  say :  '•  Oh !  you  would,  would 


82  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

you?"  and  the  commotion  having  drawn  her  so  far  down  the 
steps  that  she  could  peer  into  the  cellar  and  see  what  was  going 
on,  she  set  up  a  prolonged  scream.  This  was  just  as  Jabez, 
shifting  the  position  of  his  whip,  brought  the  butt-end  down 
on  the  head  of  the  snake  with  all  the  force  of  his  stout  young 
arm,  and  his  exhausted  foe  dropped,  literally  whipped  to  death. 

The  woman's  screams  brought  not  only  the  governor  and  the 
school-master,  but  Dr.  Stone,  the  librarian,  to  the  spot.  And  there 
stood  Jabez,  all  his  prowess  gone,  with  his  back  towards  them, 
his  head  down  on  his  arms,  which  rested  on  the  stone  slab, 
sobbing  violently  for  the  very  life  he  had  just  destroyed. 

"  Oh,  he's  bin  bitten — he's  bin  bitten !  The  vemonous  thing's 
bitten  the  lad  1  He'll  die  after  it ! "  cried  the  cook  in  an  ecstasy 
of  terror. 

"  Stand  aside,  Nancy,"  said  Dr.  Stone ;  "  that  snake  is  not 
venomous.  If  I  mistake  not,  the  brave  boy's  heart  is  wounded, 
not  his  skin." 

And,  coming  down,  the  kind,  discerning  librarian  lifted  the  snake 
with  the  one  hand,  and  took  hold  of  Jabez  with  the  other,  simply 
saying  to  him — 

"Come  into  the  governor's  room,  Jabez,  and  tell  us  all  about 
it." 

And  Jabez,  drying  his  red  eyes  on  the  cuff  of  his  coat,  was 
ushered  before  the  Doctor  up  the  stairs,  and  into  the  governor's 
room,  where  breakfast  was  laid  for  the  three  gentlemen.  There  he 
briefly  told  how  he  had  found  the  snake  drinking  the  milk  ;  and 
having  intercepted  the  reptile's  retreat,  had  been  obliged,  in  self- 
defence,  to  fight  with  it  until  he  had  whipped  it  to  death — a 
consummation  as  unlocked  for  as  regretted, 

He  had  not,  as  at  first  surmised,  escaped  unwounded  in  the 
contest ;  but,  as  Dr.  Stone  had  said,  and  the  surgeon  who  dressed 
the  bites  confirmed,  the  terrible-looking  reptile  was  but  the  common 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  83 

ringed-snake,  which  takes  freely  to  the  water ;  and  its  bite  was 
harmless.  From  the  dais  in  the  refectory  both  snake  and  whip 
were  exhibited  to  the  boys  after  breakfast. 

"  My  lads,"  said  the  governor,  "  I  daresay  you  will  all  be  glad 
to  know  that  the  thief  who  stole  the  milk  has  been  taken." 

There  was  a  general  shout  of  assent,  with  here  and  there  a 
wondering  glance  at  the  vacant  seat  of  Jabez,  who,  having  his 
wounds  washed  and  bound  up,  had  not  sat  down  with  them,  but 
had  a  sort  of  complimentary  breakfast  with  the  servants  in  the 
kitchen. 

"And  I  daresay  you  would  like  to  see  the  thief,  and  know 
how  he  was  caught." 

There  was  another  general   "  Ay,  ay,  sir ! " 

"Well,  here  he  is"  (and  he  held  the  snake  aloft);  "but  I 
don't  think  any  of  you  will  be  thrashed  on  his  account  again. 
Jabez  Clegg,  here "  (and  he  pulled  the  reluctant  boy  forward 
by  the  shoulder),  "caught  the  sly  robber  drinking  the  milk, 
and,  with  nothing  but  this  whip  and  a  fearless,  resolute  arm,  put 
a  stop  to  his  depredations,  and  restored  the  lost  character  of 
the  school." 

There  was  a  loud  hurrah  for  Jabez  Clegg,  who  for  the  time 
being  was  a  hero.  Then,  the  snake  being  carried  to  the 
schoolroom,  the  Rev.  John  Gresswell  improved  the  occasion  by 
a  lesson  on  snakes  in  general,  and  that  one  in  particular.  But 
when  he  dissipated  the  popular  belief  that  all  snakes  were 
venomous,  and  assured  the  boys  that  the  bite  of  this  was 
innocuous,  more  than  one  of  the  Blue-coated  lads  thought  Jabez 
was  not  such  a  hero  after  all. 

The  heads  of  the  College  thought  otherwise.  The  snake,  and 
whip  also,  were  placed  high  up  against  a  wall  in  the  College 
museum,  close  beside  the  "  woman's  clog  which  was  split  by  a 
thunderbolt,  and  hoo  wasn't  hurt."  They  made  part  of  the 


84  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

catalogue  of  the  Blue-coat  guides — nay,  even  Jabez  may  have 
run  the  rapid  chronicle  from  the  reel  himself;  but  the  pain 
and  shock  of  having  wilfully  killed  a  living  creature  neutralised 
and  prevented  the  harm  which  might  have  followed  self- 
glorification. 

The  long  unknown  secret  spoiler  of  the  dairy  had  been  such 
a  blemish  on  the  spotless  character  of  the  Chetham  Hospital — 
such  a  scandal  in  its  little  world — that  its  capture  became  of 
sufficient  importance  for  Dr.  Thomas  Stone  to  communicate  to 
the  Reverend  Joshua  Brookes  on  his  next  visit  to  the  library, 
Jabez  being  considered  a  sort  of  prot/gJ  of  his. 

Before  the  day  was  out  the  parson  found  his  cough  troublesome, 
and,  of  course,  went  to  Mrs.  Clowes  for  horehound-drops. 

"  Well,  what  do  you  think  of  young  Cheat-the-fishes  now  ? " 
came  raspily  from  his  lips,  as  he  leaned  on  the  counter,  evidently 
prepared  for  a  gossip,  shop-chairs  being  unheard-of  superfluities 
in  those  days. 

Mrs.  Clowes  knew  perfectly  well  whom  the  parson  meant  by 
"  young  Cheat-the-fishes "  ;  indeed,  the  boy,  on  his  rare  holidays, 
had  been  a  customer,  as  were  the  boys  of  College  and  Grammar 
School  generally. 

"Now?  Why,  what's  th'  lad  been  doing?  Naught  wrong,  I 
reckon  ?  " 

You   see  she  had   faith   in   the  boy's   open   countenance. 

"  Humph  !  that's  as  folk  think,"  he  growled,  keeping  his  own 
opinion  to  himself.  "  I  don't  suppose  I  need  to  tell  you  the 
hubbub  there's  been  over  there "  (jerking  his  finger  in  the 
direction  of  the  College)  "  about  the  stolen  milk  ?  That  tale's 
old  enough." 

Mrs.   Clowes  nodded   her   mob-cap   in  assent. 

"Well,  that  lad  Jabez  found  a  snake,  four  feet  long,  with 
its  head  in  the  milk  pans  the  other  morning,  The  sly  thief 


*THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  85 

turned  spiteful,  and  the  two  had  a  battle-royal  all  to  themselves 
in  the  cellar.  The  pugnacious  rapscallion  had  a  whip  in  his 
hand,  and  he — lashed  the  snake  to  death  ! " 

Mrs.  Clowes  echoed  his  last  words,  and  uplifted  her  hands  in 
amazement.  A  snake  was  a  terrible  reptile  to  her. 

"  Ah  !  and  then  blubbered  like  a  cry-a-babby  because  he  had 
killed  it!  What  do  you  think  of  that,  Dame  Clowes?" 

"  Eh  !  I  think  he  was  a  brave  little  chap  to  face  a  sarpent, 
but  I  think  a  fine  sight  more  of  his  blubbering,  as  you  call  it," 
said  she,  taking  a  tin  canister  from  a  shelf,  and  putting  it  on 
the  counter  with  an  emphatic  bounce. 

"  Ah !  I  thought  I  could  match  the  young  fool  with  an  old 
one,"  said  he  derisively,  to  hide  his  own  satisfaction,  as  he  took 
his  short  legs  to  the  door. 

But  Mrs.  Clowes  called  him  back,  put  a  large  paper  parcel 
in  his  hand,  and  said — 

"  Here,  Jotty,  see  you  give  these  sweetmeats  to  your  cry-a- 
babby,  and  tell  him  an  old  woman  says  there's  no  harm  in 
fighting  in  self-defence  with  any  kind  of  a  snake,  or  for  his 
own  good  name,  or  to  protect  the  helpless  ;  but,  if  he  fights 
just  to  show  off  his  own  bravery,  he's  a  coward.  And  you  tell 
him  from  me  never  to  be  ashamed  of  tears  he  has  shed  in 
repentance  for  injury  he  may  have  done  to  any  living  thing. 
Now  see  you  tell  him,  parson  ;  and  maybe  my  preachment  may 
be  worth  more  to  him  than  my  cakes  or  toffy,  or  your  sarmons." 
And  she  nodded  her  head  till  her  cap-border  flapped  like  a 
bird's  wings. 

"  Ugh !  dame,  you'll  be  for  wagging  that  tongue  and  mutch 
of  yours  in  my  pulpit  next,"  said  he,  gruffly. 

But  he  delivered  the  parcel  and  the  "  preachment "  both 
faithfully,  and,  moreover,  turned  over  his  stores  of  old  school 
books  for  a  Latin  grammar,  which  he  put  into  the  hand  of 


86  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Jabez,  with  a  promise  to  instruct  the  boy  in  the  language,  if  he 
would  like  to  learn. 

Forthwith  Jabez,  not  caring  to  seem  ungracious,  though 
without  any  special  liking  for  the  task,  had  to  encroach  upon 
his  play  hours  for  a  new  study,  under-rated  by  the  pupil,  over- 
rated by  the  teacher. 

Could  Joshua  Brookes  have  put  mathematical  instruments 
within  his  reach,  or  given  him  pencils  and  colours,  the  boy's 
eyes  would  have  sparkled,  and  study  been  a  pleasure. 


Dnmn  aitdSiynired  under  Ac,  iteration  of  J.JSria»n. 


red  fyJJtaper  iffv/n  a  Jun-ty  Jfr-  Thi'nUan 


f.amlt>/i~fiihfisfit,i  far  tfte  'Avpne&miiy  Vernor,&<ied  Jt  Jharpc,  foul&y. -Ip '•?• 


flnant  antlSiyntred  under  die  ^nation  ffJCJMOfM. 


Penurr,Sft^  Jt  J^arpt.fffuloy,  Apr. 


tv  accompany  <%e Beouluf 


CHAPTER    THE    TENTH. 


FIRST    ANTAGONISM. 

HE  extensive  oblong  enclosure 
.  known  as  Ardwick  Green, 
situated  at  the  south-eastern 
extremity  of  the  town,  on  the 
left-hand  side  of  the  highway 
to  Stockport  and  London,  was, 
in  1809,  part  of  a  suburban 
village,  and  from  Piccadilly  to 
a  blacksmith's  forge  a  little 
beyond  Ardwick  Bridge,  fields 
and  hedges  were  interspersed 
with  the  newly-erected  houses 
along  Bank  Top. 

The  Green,  studded  here 
and  there  with  tall  poplars 
and  other  trees,  was  fenced  round  with  quite  an  army  of  stumpy 
wooden  posts  some  six  feet  apart,  connected  by  squared  iron 
rods,  a  barrier  against  cattle  cnly.  A  long,  slightly  serpentine 
lake  spread  its  shining  waters  from  end  to  end  within  the  soft 
circlet  of  green ;  and  this  grassy  belt  served  as  a  promenade 
for  the  fashionable  inhabitants.  And  there  must  have  been  such 
in  that  village  of  Ardwick  early  in  the  century,  as  now,  for  the 
one  bell  in  the  tiny  turret  of  St.  Thomas's  small,  plain,  red- 


COLLEGE  GATE  AND  GRAMMAR  SCHOOL. 


88  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

brick  chapel  rang  a  fashionable  congregation  into  its  neat  pews, 
to  listen  to  the  well-toned  organ  and  the  devoutly-toned  voice 
of  the  perpetual  curate,  the  Reverend  R.  Tweddle,  if  we  may 
credit  an  historian  of  the  time. 

Red-brick  church,  red-brick  houses,  hard  and  cold  outside, 
solid  and  roomy  and  comfortable  within,  as  Georgian  architecture 
ever  was,  overlooked  green  and  pond,  but,  luckily,  overlooked 
them  from  a  reasonable  distance,  and,  moreover,  did  not  elbow 
each  other  too  closely,  but  were  individually  set  in  masses  of 
foliage,  which  toned  down  the  staring  brickwork.  Time  and 
smoke  have  done  so  more  effectually  since. 

One  of  the  best,  and  best-looking  of  these  houses,  near  the 
church,  was  the  one  in  which  the  delicate  Mrs.  Aspinall  had 
presided  for  a  few  brief  years.  An  iron  palisade,  enclosing  a 
few  shrubs  and  evergreens,  separated  it  from  the  wide  roadway, 
but  behind  the  screen  of  brick  ran  a  formal  but  extensive  garden 
and  orchard,  well-kept  and  well-stocked,  with  a  fish-pond  as 
formal  in  the  midst. 

Fish-ponds  encourage  damp,  and  damp  encourages  frogs,  efts, 
and  their  kin.  Here  they  abounded,  and  Master  Laurence  had  a 
sort  of  instinctive  belief  that  they  were  created  solely  for  his  sport 
and  amusement.  Mr.  Aspinall,  his  father,  immersed  in  business 
during  the  day,  and  occupied  with  friends  at  home  or  abroad  until 
late  hours  at  night,  saw  very  little  of  his  son,  who  was  thus  .  con- 
signed to  servants  during  those  hours  not  spent,  or  supposed  to  be 
spent,  at  a  preparatory  school  close  at  hand. 

The  boy  was  quick  and  intelligent,  had  his  mother's  amber  curls 
and  azure  eyes,  her  delicate  skin  and  brilliant  colour,  but  the 
handsome  face  had  more  of  the  father  therein,  and  was  too 
unformed  to  brook  description  here. 

What  he  might  have  been  with  other  training  is  not  to  be  told, 
but  under  the  supposition  that  he  inherited  his  mother's  fragile 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  89 

constitution,  he  had  been  woefully  spoiled  and  pampered.  Opposition 
to  his  will  was  forbidden. 

"  Bear  with  him,  Kitty,  for  my  sake,  and  do  not  thwart  him,  or 
you  will  break  his  fine  spirit,"  had  been  Mrs.  Aspinall's  dying 
charge  to  her  old  nurse  ;  and  as  every  demonstration  of  temper 
was  ascribed  by  both  parents  to  this  same  "  fine  spirit,"  what 
wonder  that  he  grew  up  masterful — and  worse  ? 

His  imperious  disposition  early  ingratiated  him  into  the  favour 
of  Bob,  his  father's  groom  ;  and  this  man,  thinking  no  evil,  ignoran-tly 
sowed  the  seeds  of  cruelty  in  his  young  heart. 

When  the  horses  were  singed,  the  boy  was  allowed  to  be  a 
spectator ;  if  a  whelp  had  his  ears  cropped,  or  the  end  of  its  tail 
bitten  of,  he  was  treated  to  a  sight.  If  a  brood  of  kittens  or  a 
litter  of  puppies  had  to  be  drowned,  Master  Laurence  was  sure  to 
be  in  at  the  death.  He  was  taken  to  surreptitious  cock-fights  and 
rat  hunts  ;  and  though,  when  too  late,  Mr.  Aspinall  turned  the  man 
away  for  inclining  his  son  to  "low  pursuits,"  nothing  was  said  or 
done  to  counteract  these  lessons  of  cruelty !  No  wonder,  then,  that 
to  him  the  sight  of  pain  inflicted  brought  pleasure,  or  that  inhumanity 
went  hand-in-hand  with  self-will. 

One  incident — a  real  one — will  suffice  to  show  what  Laurence 
Aspinall  was,  when  Jabez  Clegg  shed  tears  over  the  snake  he  had 
killed  perforce. 

Kitty  was  in  the  kitchen  alone.  The  maids  were  in  other  parts 
of  the  house.  She  was  sitting  close  to  a  blazing  fire  on  account  of 
her  "  rheumatics,"  and  was  in  a  dose.  The  evening  was  drawing  in. 
Master  Laurence,  coming  direct  from  the  garden  and  the  fish-pond, 
burst  open  the  kitchen  door  with  a  whoop  which  made  Kitty  start 
from  her  nap  in  a  fright.  Thereupon  he  set  up  a  loud  laugh  as  the 
poor  old  woman  held  her  hand  to  her  side,  and  panted  for  breath. 
In  his  hand  was  his  pocket-handkerchief,  tied  like  a  bundle,  in 
which  something  living  seemed  to  move  and  palpitate.  They  were 


90  THE   MANCHESTER    MAN. 

young  frogs  in  various  stages  ot  development  "  Now,  Kitty,"  said 
he,  "  I'll  show  you  some  rare  sport  "  and  taking  one  of  the  live 
frogs  out  of  the  handkerchief,  deliberately  threw  it  into  the  midst 
of  the  glowing  fire, 

"  There,  Kitty ;  did  you  hear  that  ? "  cried  he  in  rapture,  as  the 
poor  animal  uttered  a  cry  of  agony  almost  human,  whilst  he  danced 
on  the  hearth  like  a  frantic  savage  round  a  sacrificial  fire. 

"Oh,  Master  Laurence!  Master  Laurence!  don't  do  that — don't 
be  so  cruel ! "  appealed  Kitty,  piteously. 

But  he  had  drawn  another  forth,  and  crying,  "  Cruel !  It's  fun, 
Kitty — fun ! "  tore  it  limb  from  limb,  and  threw  it  piecemeal  into 
the  blaze. 

"  There's  another !  and  there's  another ! "  he  shouted  in  glee,  as 
the  rest  followed  in  swift  succession ;  and  Kitty,  shrieking  in  pain 
and  horror,  ran  from  the  kitchen,  bringing  the  cook  and  housemaid 
downstairs  with  her  cries. 

For  the  first  time  in  his  life  Mr.  Aspinall  administered  a  sound 
castigation  to  his  son,  regretting  that  he  had  not  done  it  earlier. 

No  more  was  said  of  his  son's  fine  spirit;  but,  prompt  to  act, 
he  lost  no  time  in  seeking  his  admission  into  the  Free  Grammar 
School ;  and  either  to  spare  him  the  long  daily  walk,  in  tenderness 
for  his  health  (Ardwick  was  more  than  a  mile  away),  or  to  place 
him  under  strict  supervision,  boarded  Laurence  with  one  of  the 
masters. 

Yet  he  gave  that  master  no  clue  to  his  son's  besetting  sin ; 
so  he  was  left  free  to  tantalise  and  torment  every  weaker  creature 
within  his  orbit,  from  the  schoolmaster's  cat,  which  he  shod  with 
walnut-shells,  to  the  youngest  school-boy,  whose  books  he  tore  and 
hid,  whose  hair  he  pulled,  whose  cap  and  frills  he  soused  in  the  mud. 

It  was  a  misfortune  for  himself  and  others  that  his  pocket 
money  was  more  abundant  than  that  of  his  fellows.  Never  had  the 
apple-woman  or  Mrs,  Clowes  a  more  lavish  customer,  or  one  who 


THE   MANCHESTER    MAN.  91 

distributed  his  purchases  more  freely.  Boys  incapable  of  discrimina- 
ting between  generosity  and  profusion  dubbed  him  generous  ;  and 
that,  coupled  with  his  handsome  face  and  spirited  bearing,  which 
they  mistook  for  courage,  brought  him  partizans. 

Thus,  long  before  his  first  year  expired,  and  he  was  drafted 
from  the  lower  school  to  the  room  above,  where  he  came  under 
the  keen  eye  and  heavy  ferule  of  Joshua  Brookes,  he  had  a 
body  of  lads  at  his  beck  (many  older  than  himself),  ready  for 
any  mischief  he  might  propose. 

As  well  may  be  supposed,  there  was  a  natural  antagonism 
between  the  boys  of  the  Grammar  School  and  of  Chetham's 
Hospital.  As  at  the  confluence  of  two  streams  the  waters  chafe 
and  foam  and  fret  each  other,  so  it  is  scarcely  possible  for  two 
separate  communities,  similar,  yet  differing  in  their  constitutions, 
to  have  their  gateways  close  together  at  right  angles  without 
frequent  collision  between  the  rival  bodies. 

In  the  great  gate  of  the  College,  only  open  on  special 
occasions,  was  a  small  door  or  wicket,  for  ordinary  use ;  and 
some  of  the  Grammar  School  boys,  under  pretence  of  shortening 
their  route  homeward,  finding  it  open,  would  make  free  to  cross 
the  College  Yard  at  a  noisy  canter,  and  let  themselves  out  at 
the  far  gate  on  Hunt's  Bank.  It  was  a  clear  trespass.  They 
were  frequently  admonished  by  one  official  or  another ;  their 
passage  was  disputed  by  the  Blue-coat  boys  ;  but  they  persisted 
in  setting  up  a  right  of  road,  and  opposition  only  gave  piquancy 
to  their  bravado. 

That  which  began  with  individual  assumption  soon  attained 
the  character  of  boldly-asserted  party  aggression,  and,  as  the 
Blue-coat  boys  were  as  determined  to  preserve  their  rights  as  the 
others  were  to  invade  them,  many  and  well-contested  were  the 
consequent  fights  and  struggles.  And  thus  the  two  boys,  Jabez 
Clegg  and  Laurence  Aspinall,  brought  together  first  at  the  church 


go  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

young  frogs  in  various  stages  of  development.  "  Now,  Kitty,"  said 
he,  "  I'll  show  you  some  rare  sport  "  and  taking  one  of  the  live 
frogs  out  of  the  handkerchief,  deliberately  threw  it  into  the  midst 
of  the  glowing  fire. 

"There,  Kitty;  did  you  hear  that?"  cried  he  in  rapture,  as  the 
poor  animal  uttered  a  cry  of  agony  almost  human,  whilst  he  danced 
on  the  hearth  like  a  frantic  savage  round  a  sacrificial  fire. 

"  Oh,  Master  Laurence !  Master  Laurence  !  don't  do  that — don't 
be  so  cruel ! "  appealed  Kitty,  piteously. 

But  he  had  drawn  another  forth,  and  crying,  "  Cruel !  It's  fun, 
Kitty — fun ! "  tore  it  limb  from  limb,  and  threw  it  piecemeal  into 
the  blaze. 

"  There's  another !  and  there's  another ! "  he  shouted  in  glee,  as 
the  rest  followed  in  swift  succession ;  and  Kitty,  shrieking  in  pain 
and  horror,  ran  from  the  kitchen,  bringing  the  cook  and  housemaid 
downstairs  with  her  cries. 

For  the  first  time  in  his  life  Mr.  Aspinall  administered  a  sound 
castigation  to  his  son,  regretting  that  he  had  not  done  it  earlier. 

No  more  was  said  of  his  son's  fine  spirit;  but,  prompt  to  act, 
he  lost  no  time  in  seeking  his  admission  into  the  Free  Grammar 
School ;  and  either  to  spare  him  the  long  daily  walk,  in  tenderness 
for  his  health  (Ardwick  was  more  than  a  mile  away),  or  to  place 
him  under  strict  supervision,  boarded  Laurence  with  one  of  the 
masters. 

Yet  he  gave  that  master  no  clue  to  his  son's  besetting  sin ; 
so  he  was  left  free  to  tantalise  and  torment  every  weaker  creature 
within  his  orbit,  from  the  schoolmaster's  cat,  which  he  shod  with 
walnut-shells,  to  the  youngest  school-boy,  whose  books  he  tore  and 
hid,  whose  hair  he  pulled,  whose  cap  and  frills  he  soused  in  the  mud. 

It  was  a  misfortune  for  himself  and  others  that  his  pocket 
money  was  more  abundant  than  that  of  his  fellows.  Never  had  the 
apple-woman  or  Mrs.  Clowes  a  more  lavish  customer,  or  one  who 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  91 

distributed  his  purchases  more  freely.  Boys  incapable  of  discrimina- 
ting between  generosity  and  profusion  dubbed  him  generous  ;  and 
that,  coupled  with  his  handsome  face  and  spirited  bearing,  which 
they  mistook  for  courage,  brought  him  partizans. 

Thus,  long  before  his  first  year  expired,  and  he  was  drafted 
from  the  lower  school  to  the  room  above,  where  he  came  under 
the  keen  eye  and  heavy  ferule  of  Joshua  Brookes,  he  had  a 
body  of  lads  at  his  beck  (many  older  than  himself),  ready  for 
any  mischief  he  might  propose. 

As  well  may  be  supposed,  there  was  a  natural  antagonism 
between  the  boys  of  the  Grammar  School  and  of  Chetham's 
Hospital.  As  at  the  confluence  of  two  streams  the  waters  chafe 
and  foam  and  fret  each  other,  so  it  is  scarcely  possible  for  two 
separate  communities,  similar,  yet  differing  in  their  constitutions, 
to  have  their  gateways  close  together  at  right  angles  without 
frequent  collision  between  the  rival  bodies. 

In  the  great  gate  of  the  College,  only  open  on  special 
occasions,  was  a  small  door  or  wicket,  for  ordinary  use ;  and 
some  of  the  Grammar  School  boys,  under  pretence  of  shortening 
their  route  homeward,  finding  it  open,  would  make  free  to  cross 
the  College  Yard  at  a  noisy  canter,  and  let  themselves  out  at 
the  far  gate  on  Hunt's  Bank.  It  was  a  clear  trespass.  They 
were  frequently  admonished  by  one  official  or  another ;  their 
passage  was  disputed  by  the  Blue-coat  boys  ;  but  they  persisted 
in  setting  up  a  right  of  road,  and  opposition  only  gave  piquancy 
to  their  bravado. 

That  which  began  with  individual  assumption  soon  attained 
the  character  of  boldly-asserted  party  aggression,  and,  as  the 
Blue-coat  boys  were  as  determined  to  preserve  their  rights  as  the 
others  were  to  invade  them,  many  and  well-contested  were  the 
consequent  fights  and  struggles.  And  thus  the  two  boys,  Jabez 
Clegg  and  Laurence  Aspinall,  brought  together  first  at  the  church 


94  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

the  deep  gateway  until  all  were  within,  rushed,  with  vociferous 
shouts,  from  under  cover,  and  tore  across  the  large  yard  in  the 
direction  of  the  other  gate,  daring  anyone  to  check  them. 

The  College  boys,  just  emerging  from  their  school-room  door 
in  the  corner,  were,  for  the  moment,  taken  aback.  Then,  from 
the  mouth  of  Joshua  Brookes'  new  Latin  scholar,  rang,  clear 
and  distinct,  Humphrey  Chetham's  motto — "Quod  tuum  tene!" 
(What  you  have,  hold!)  and  the  Blue -coat  boys,  with  one  George 
Pilkington  for  their  leader,  threw  themselves,  at  that  rallying  cry, 
like  a  great  wave,  headlong  upon  the  intruders. 

They  met  the  shock  as  a  rock  meets  a  wave,  and  down  went 
many  a  gallant  Blue-coat  in  the  dust  Up  they  were  in  an 
instant,  face  to  face  with  the  besiegers  ;  and  then,  each  singling 
out  an  opponent,  fought  or  wrestled  for  the  mastery  with  all  the 
courage  and  animosity,  if  not  the  skill,  of  practised  combatants. 
Ben  Travis  and  George  Pilkington  fought  hand  to  hand,  and  Jabez 
— not  for  the  first  time — measured  his  strength  with  Laurence. 

Heavier,  stronger,  older  by  a  few  months,  Jabez  might  have 
overmatched  his  antagonist;  but  Laurence  had  profited  by  the 
lessons  of  Bob,  the  discarded  groom,  and  every  blow  was  planted 
skilfully,  and  told.  Then  Bob's  teaching  had  been  none  of  the 
most  chivalrous,  and  Laurence  took  unfair  advantage.  He  "struck 
below  the  belt,"  and  then  tripping  Jabez  up,  like  the  coward  that 
he  was,  kicked  him,  as  he  lay  prostrate,  with  the  fury  of  a 
savage. 

Governor,  schoolmaster,  librarian,  and  porter  had  hastened  to 
the  scene;  but  the  assailants  nearly  doubled  the  number  of  the 
College  boys,  and  set  lawful  authority  at  defiance,  hurling  at 
them  epithets  such  as  only  schoolboys  could  devise. 

Fortunately,  their  own  Blue-coat  boys  were  amenable  to 
discipline,  and,  called  off,  one  by  one  retreated  to  the  house, 
often  with  pursuers  close  at  their  heels.  Then  the  Grammar 


THE    FIGHT    IN    THE    COLLEGE    YARD. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  95 

School  tribe  set  up  a  scornful,  triumphant  shout,  and,  with  Ben 
Travis  and  Laurence  Aspinall  at  their  head,  marched  out  of  the 
College  Yard  at  the  Hunt's  Bank  gate,  exulting  in  their  victory, 
even  though  they  left  one  of  their  bravest  little  antagonists 
insensible  behind  them 


CHAPTER    THE    ELEVENTH. 


THE   BLUE-COAT    BOY. 


HOSE  were  rough  days,  when 
an  occasional  brawl  was  sup- 
posed essential  to  test  the 
mettle  of  man  or  boy,  so 
that  bruises  and  black  eyes 
(the  result  of  an  encounter 
for  the  honour  of  the  school) 
were  passed  over  with  much 
lighter  penalties  than  would 
be  dealt  out  now-a-days  if 
young  gentlemen  in  a  public 
academy  descended  to  black- 
guardism. 

At  that  time,  too,  the 
pupils  of  the  Grammar  School 
assembled  at  seven  in  the 

morning,  and  sure  punishment  awaited  the  laggard  who  failed 
to  present  himself  for  prayers.  There  were  few  loiterers  on  that 
drear  October  morning.  Conscience,  and  perhaps  a  dread  of 
consequences,  had  kept  the  preceding  day's  war-party  sufficiently 
awake,  even  where  sore  limbs  did  not  But,  with  the  exception 
of  a  few  smart  raps  with  the  ferule,  to  warm  cold  fingers,  and 


A   BLUE-COAT   BOY. 


THE    REV.    JEREMIAH    SMITH,    D.D. 
From   an    EtlflwVlttf. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  97 

a    general     admonition — little    heeded — the     early    hours    of    the 
morning  passed  quietly  enough,  more  congratulatory  than  prophetic. 

That  day  went  by,  and  the  next.  Laurence  Aspinall,  whose 
"science"  had  saved  his  head  from  more  damage  than  a  cut 
lip,  was  especially  boastful ;  and,  after  his  own  underhand  fashion, 
strove  to  stir  big  Ben  Travis  to  fresh  demonstrations. 

Then  a  cloud  loomed  in  the  horizon  and  darkened  every 
master's  brow.  Another  whisper  was  in  circulation  that  Governor 
Terry  had  been  seen  to  enter  the  head-master's  ancient  black 
and  white  old  house,  and  had  been  closeted  with  Dr.  Smith  for 
more  than  an  hour.  Still  the  quiet  was  unbroken,  and,  to  the 
wise,  the  very  calm  was  ominous. 

The  second  of  November  brought  a  revelation.  On  the 
slightly-raised  floor  of  the  high  school,  at  the  Millgate  end  of 
the  room,  sat,  not  only  Dr.  Jeremiah  Smith,  but  the  trustees  of 
the  school,  the  Reverend  Joshua  Brookes,  and  the  assistant 
masters ;  and  with  them  was  Governor  Terry,  of  the  Chetham 
Hospital — all  grave  and  stern.  Dr.  Smith's  mild  face  was 
unusually  severe,  and  Joshua's  shaggy  brows  loured  menacingly 
over  his  angry  eyes.  The  senior  pupils,  chiefly  young  men 
preparing  for  college,  were  ranged  on  either  side. 

As  the  last  of  these  awful  personages  filed  in  through  the 
two-leaved  door,  and  took  his  place,  the  palpitating  hearts  of 
the  delinquents  beat  audibly,  and  courage  oozed  from  many  a 
clammy  palm. 

The  boys  were  summoned  from  the  lower  school,  and  one  by 
one,  name  by  name,  Ben  Travis  and  his  followers  were  called  to 
take  their  stand  before  this  formidable  tribunal,  Laurence  Aspinall 
shrinking  edgeways,  as  if  to  screen  himself  from  observation. 

There  was  little  need  for  Dr.  Smith  to  strike  his  ferule  on 
the  table  to  command  attention,  silence  was  so  profound.  Even 
nervous  feet  forgot  to  shuffle,  Dr.  Smith's  commanding  eye 


98 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


swept   the   trembling  rank   from   end   to   end,    as    he  stood   with 
impressive   dignity   to  address   them. 

After  a  brief  exordium,  in  which  he  recounted  the  several 
charges  brought  against  the  boys  by  Governor  Terry,  he  proceeded 
to  say  that  the  good  character  of  the  Manchester  Grammar 
School  was  imperilled  by  lawless  conduct  such  as  the  boys 
before  him  had  exhibited  the  previous  Tuesday,  in  forcibly 
entering,  and  then  rioting  within,  the  College  Yard. 

One  of  the  youths — most  likely  Ben  Travis — blurted  forth  that 
they  had  a  right  to  go  through  the  College  Yard,  and  that  the 
College  boys  stopped  them. 

"You  mistake,"  said  the  doctor,  sternly;  "there  is  no  public  right 
of  road  through  the  College  Yard.  Permission  is  courteously 
granted,  but  there  is  no  right.  There  is  a  right  for  the  public  to 
pass  to  and  from  the  College  and  its  library  on  business,  within  the 
hours  the  gates  are  open  ;  but  even  that  must  be  in  order  and 
decency.  Your  conduct  was  that  of  barbarians,  not  gentlemen." 

At  this  point  of  the  proceedings  Jabez  Clegg  came  into  the 
school-room,  leaning  on  the  arm  of  George  Pilkington.  The  face 
of  the  latter  was  bruised  and  swollen,  but  Jabez  looked  deplorable. 
His  long  blue  overcoat  was  rent  in  more  than  one  place ;  he  walked 
with  a  limp ;  a  white  bandage  round  his  head  made  his  white  face 
whiter  still,  showing  more  distinctly  the  livid  and  discoloured 
patches  under  the  half-closed  eyes.  In  obedience  to  a  nod  from 
Governor  Terry,  George  Pilkington  led  his  Blue-coat  brother  to  a 
seat  beside  him ;  but  Dr.  Smith,  drawing  the  boy  gently  to  his 
side,  removed  the  bandage,  and  showed  Jabez  to  the  school  with 
one  deeply-cut  eyebrow  plaistered  up. 

"  What  boy  among  you  has  been  guilty  of  this  outrage  ? "  he 
asked,  sternly. 

There  was  no  answer.     Some  of  the  little  ones  took  out  their 
handkerchiefs  and  began  to  whimper,  fearing  condign  punishment 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  99 

The  doctor  repeated  his  question.  The  boys  looked  from  one  to 
another,  but  there  was  still  no  reply.  Laurence  Aspinall  edged 
farther  behind  his  coadjutor,  but  he  had  not  the  manliness  either 
to  confess  or  regret.  His  only  fear  was  detection,  or  betrayal 
by  a  traitor.  There  was  little  fear  of  that ;  grammar-school  boys 
have  a  detestation  of  a  "sneak." 

"Boys,  we  cannot  permit  the  perpetrator  of  such  an  outrage 
to  remain  in  your  midst ;  he  must  be  expelled ! " 

Still   no   one   spoke. 

"Do  you  think  you  could  recognise  your  assailant — the  boy 
who  kicked  you  after  you  were  down  ? "  (a  murmur  ran  round 
the  school  as  the  classes  were  ordered  to  defile  -slowly  past  Dr. 
Smith's  desk). 

Ben  Travis  walked  with  head  erect — he  would  have  scorned 
such  a  deed — and  Laurence  tried  to  do  the  same,  but  his  cruel 
blue  eyes  could  not  meet  those  of  his  possible  accuser, 

There  was  a  struggle  going  on  in  the  heart  of  Jabez.  It  was 
in  his  power  to  revenge  himself  for  many  taunts  and  sarcasms, 
and  much  previous  abuse.  He  called  to  mind — for  thought  is 
swift — that  Shrove  Tuesday  when  Laurence  and  his  friends 
caught  him  as  he  descended  Mrs.  Clowes'  steps  with  a  penny- 
worth of  humbugs  in  his  hand,  and  snatching  his  cap  from  his 
head,  kicked  it  about  Half  Street  and  the  churchyard  as  a 
football,  And  he  seemed  to  feel  again  the  twitch  at  his  dark 
hair  and  the  dreadful  pain  in  his  spine  and  loins,  as  they  bent 
him  backwards  over  the  coping  of  the  low  wall,  in  order  to 
wrest  his  sweets  from  him,  and  held  him  there  perforce  till 
stout  Mrs.  Clowes,  armed  with  a  rolling-pin,  came  to  his  rescue, 
laying  about  her  vigorously,  and  kept  him  in  her  back  parlour 
until  he  revived. 

"  Forgive  and  forget "  are  words  for  the  angels,  and  Jabez 
was  not  an  angel,  but  a  boy  with  quick-beating  pulses,  and  a 


ioo  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

vivid  memory.  There  was  a  fight  going  on  in  his  breast  fiercer 
than  either  that  in  Half  Street  or  that  in  the  College  Yard. 
His  sore,  stiff  limbs,  and  smarting  brow,  urged  him  like  voices 
to  "  pay  him  off  for  all,"  and  revenge  began  to  have  a  sweet 
savour  in  his  mouth. 

As  he  hesitated,  watching  the  slow  approach  of  his  foe  among 
his  nobler  mates,  a  harsh  voice  behind  him  called  out,  " Jabez, 
why  do  you  not  answer  Dr.  Smith  ? " 

The  emphasis  Joshua  Brookes  had  laid  upon  the  "  Jabez " 
recalled  the  boy's  better  self.  The  oft-repeated  text  flashed  across 
his  mind,  "Jabez  was  an  honourable  man,"  and  it  shaped  his 
reply. 

"Well,  sir,  it  was  almost  dark,  and — and" — he  was  going  to 
add  too  dark  to  distinguish  features,  but  he  recollected  that  that 
would  be  a  falsehood,  and  lying  was  no  more  honourable  than 
malice. 

"  And  you  could  not  recognise  him,  you  mean  ? "  suggested 
Dr.  Smith. 

His  lip-  quivered. 

"No,  sir,  I  do  not  mean  that.  It  was  very  dark,  but  I 
think  I  should  know  him  again.  But,  oh !  if  you  please,  sir, 
I  should  not  like  to  turn  him  out  of  school.  You  see,  we  were 
all  fighting  together,  and  we  were  all  in  a  passion,  and — and — it 
would  be  very  mean  of  me  to  turn  him  out  of  school  because  he 
hurt  me  in  a  fight"  (Jabez  did  not  say  a  fair  fight). 

"  Ah !  "  said  Dr.  Smith,  and,  turning  to  Mr.  Terry,  asked, 
"Are  all  the  Chetham  lads  reared  on  the  same  principle?" 

Then  there  was  a  low-voiced  discussion  amongst  trustees  and 
masters.  Finally,  Dr.  Smith  turned  round.  His  clear  eye  had 
detected  the  culprit  as  he  winced  beneath  the  gaze  of  Jabez. 
But  the  injured  boy  had  forgiven,  and  it  was  not  for  him  to 
condemn. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  lot 

Again  he  spoke — proclaimed  how  Jabez  had  magnanimously 
declined  to  single  out  his  cowardly  antagonist ;  and  that  the 
boy,  whoever  he  might  be,  had  to  thank  his  most  honourable 
victim  that  he  was  not  ignominiously  expelled.  Then  quietly, 
but  emphatically,  he  pronounced  the  decision  of  the  trustees  that 
instant  expulsion  should  follow  any  or  every  repetition  of  the 
offence  which  had  called  them  together — not  only  the  expulsion 
of  the  ringleaders,  but  of  all  concerned  ;  and  that  even  a  fair  fight 
between  a  Grammar  School  and  a  Blue-coat  boy  should  be  visited 
with  suspension  pending  enquiry,  the  offender  to  be  expelled, 
whether  from  School  or  College. 

"  Good  lad,  Jabez — good  lad ! "  said  Joshua  Brookes  to  him,  as 
George  Pilkington  helped  his  limping  steps  from  the  room. 

On  the  broad  flat  step  outside  the  door  they  encountered  big 
Ben  Travis,  who  caught  the  hand  of  Jabez  in  a  rough  grip,  with 
the  exclamation,  "  Give  us  your  fist,  my  young  buck !  You've 
more  pluck  in  your  finger  than  that  carroty  Aspinall  has  in  his 
whole  carcase,  the  mean  cur!  An'  look  you,  my  lad,  if  any  of 
them  set  on  you  again,  I'll  stand  by  and  see  fair  play ;  or  I'll 
fight  for  you  if  it's  a  big  chap,  or  my  name's  not  Ben  Travis." 

"Who  talks  of  fighting?  Haven't  you  had  enough  for  one 
while,  you  great  raw-boned  brute?  You'd  better  keep  your  ready 
fists  in  your  pockets,  Travis,  if  you  don't  want  to  be  kicked 
out  of  school!"  After  which  gruff  reminder  Joshua  left  them, 
and  Jabez  went  back  to  the  College  with  one  more  friend  in  the 
world ;  but  that  friend  was  not  Laurence  Aspinall. 

He,  smarting  under  a  sense  of  obligation,  shrunk  away  to  bite 
his  nails  and  vent  his  spleen  in  private,  conscious  that  he  "was 
shunned  by  his  classmates,  and  despised  by  honest  Ben  Travis. 

As  months  and  seasons  sped  onwards,  they  plucked  the  hairs 
from  Simon  Clegg's  crown,  and  left  a  bald  patch  to  tell  of  care 
or  coming  age ;  they  stole  the  roundness  from  Bess's  figure,  the 


102  THE   MANCHESTER   MAN. 

hope  from  her  heart  and  eyes.  There  was  less  vigour  in  the  beat 
of  her  batting-wand,  less  elasticity  in  her  step.  The  periodical 
holidays  and  cheering  visits  of  Jabez  were  the  only  pleasant 
breaks  in  the  monotonous  life  of  the  Cleggs.  Beyond  the 
knowledge  obtained  at  the  billeting  office  in  King  Street  that 
Tom  Hulme  had  entered  the  army  and  gone  abroad  with  his 
regiment,  no  tidings  of  the  self-exiled  soldier  had  come  to  them. 
In  the  great  vortex  of  war  his  name  had  been  swallowed  up  and 
lost.  But  she  never  said  "Ay"  to  Matthew  Cooper,  though  he 
waited  and  waited,  smoking  his  Sunday  pipe  by  the  fireside  even  till 
his  own  Molly  was  old  enough  to  have  a  sweetheart,  and  to  want 
to  leave  her  father's  crowded  hearth  for  a  quieter  one  of  her  own. 

Those  same  months  and  years  added  alike  to  the  stature  and 
attainments  of  Jabez  Clegg  and  Laurence  Aspinall,  though  in  very 
unequal  ratio.  The  former,  though  he  had  long  since  astonished 
Simon  with  his  fluent  rendering  of  the  big  Bible,  was  but  a 
plodding  scholar  of  average  ability,  the  range  of  whose  studies  was" 
limited,  notwithstanding  Parson  Joshua's  voluntary  Latin  lessons. 
The  latter  had  an  aptitude  for  learning,  which  made  his  masters 
press  him  forward;  and  Joshua  Brookes  forgave  the  tricks  he 
played,  his  translations  were  so  clear  and  so  correct.  Yet,  when 
he  wrote  stinging  couplets  or  "St.  Crispin"  on  the  Parson's  door, 
or  put  cobblers'-wax  on  the  pedagogue's  chair,  the  covert  reference 
to  his  parentage  stung  the  irascible  man  more  than  the  damage  to 
kerseymere,  and  in  his  wrath  he  birched  his  pupil  into  penitence. 

His  penitence  took  a  peculiar  form.  A  discovery  was  made 
that  a  general  dance  in  the  school-room  would  shake  the  pewter 
platters  and  crockery  down  from  dresser  and  corner  cupboard  in 
Joshua's  house  adjoining.  Whenever  the  dominie  had  growled  over 
bad  lessons  with  least  cause,  Laurence  was  sure  to  propose  a  grand 
hornpipe  after  school  hours.  Back  would  rush  Joshua  fast  as  his 
short  legs  would  carry  him,  spluttering  with  passion ;  but  the 


THE   MANCHESTER    MAN. 


103 


nimbler  lads  disappeared  when  they  heard  the  crash,  and,  as  a 
rule,  Joshua's  temper  cooled  before  morning. 

Laurence  Aspinall's  chief  source  of  amusement  from  his  first 
entrance  into  the  Grammar  School  had  been  the  crippled  father 
of  Joshua  Brookes.  As  the  old  fellow  staggered  home  drunk,  the 
street  boys  would  hoot  at  him,  pull  him  about,  pelt  him  with  mud, 
and  mock  at  him,  till  his  impotent  fury  found  vent  in  a  storm  of 
vile  and  opprobrious  language.  Laurence  was  sure  to  enjoy  a 
scene  of  this  kind,  but  he  was  generally  sly  enough  to  act  as 
prompter,  not  as  principal. 

The  old  man  was  a  great  angler;  and  that  he  might  enjoy 
unmolested  his  favourite  pastime,  his  son  had  obtained  from  Colonel 
Hansom  permission  for  him  to  fish  in  Strangeways  Park  ponds. 
Thither  he  had  an  empty  hogshead  conveyed,  and  the  crippled  old 
cobbler,  with  a  flask  of  rum  for  company,  sat  within  it,  often  the 
night  through,  to  catch  fish.  The  Irk  had  not  then  lost  its  repute 
for  fine  eels,  and  old  Brookes — who,  by  the  way,  wore  his  hair  in 
a  pigtail — was  likewise  wont  to  plant  himself,  with  rod  and  line,  on 
what  was  the  Waterworth  Field,  on  the  Irwell  side  of  Irk  Bridge, 
to  catch  eels. 

Returning  one  afternoon  (Joshua  was  busied  with  clerical  duties), 
Laurence  Aspinall  and  his  fellows  met  the  old  man  staggering  along 
with  his  rod  over  his  shoulder  and  a  basket  of  eels  in  one  hand. 

He  had  called  at  the  "Packhorse"  for  a  dram,  and  went  on,  as 
was  his  wont,  talking  noisily  to  himself.  He  had  steered 
round  the  corner  in  safety;  but  hearing  one  lively  voice  call 
out,  "Here's  Old  Fishtail;"  and  another,  "Here's  St.  Crispin's 
Cripple ;"  and  a  third,  "  Make  way  for  Diogenes,"  as  he  was 
passing  the  high-master's  ancient  house  he  gave  a  lurch,  meaning 
to  reprove  them  solemnly — the  top  of  his  rod  caught  in  the 
prominent  pillar  of  the  doorway,  and  was  torn  from  his  insecure 
grasp.  Striving  to  recover  it,  he  pitched  forward,  and  in  falling 


1 


104  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

dropped  his  basket  in  the  mud,  and  set  the  writhing,  long-lived 
fish  at  liberty  to  swim  in  the  gutter  swollen  with  recent  rain. 

The  lounging  lads  at  once  set  up  a  shout ;  but  Laurence, 
with  a  timely  recollection  that  the  front  of  Dr.  Smith's  was 
scarcely  the  most  convenient  place  for  his  purpose,  winked  at 
his  companions,  and,  with  an  aspect  of  mock  commiseration, 
politely  assisted  the  old  man  to  rise,  begged  the  others  to 
capture  the  eels  and  carry  the  basket  for  him,  and,  under 
pretence  of  putting  the  angler's  rod  in  order,  contrived  to  fasten 
the  hook  to  the  end  of  his  old-fashioned  pigtail. 

Then  he  helped  his  unsteady  steps  until  they  were  fairly  out 
of  Dr.  Smith's  sight  and  hearing ;  but  they  did  not  suffer  him 
to  reach  his  son's  house  before  they  showed  their  true  colours. 
Loosing  his  hold,  Laurence  snatched  at  the  rod,  and,  darting 
with  it  towards  the  College  gate,  cried  out  in  high  glee,  "I've 
been  fishing;  look  at  the  fine  snig  (eel)  I've  caught!"  And, 
as  he  capered  about,  he  dragged  the  poor  old  cripple  hither 
and  thither  backwards  by  his  pigtail,  to  which  hook  and  line 
were  attached. 

Old  Brookes  screamed  in  impotent  rage  and  pain  ;  the  boys 
laughed  and  shouted  the  louder.  The  one  with  his  basket  set  it 
on  his  head,  and  paraded  about,  crying,  "  Who'll  buy  my  snigs  ? 
Fine  fresh  snigs!"  with  the  nasal  drawl  of  a  genuine  fish-seller. 

Once  or  twice  the  old  man  fell  down,  uttering  awful  threats 
and  imprecations ;  but  Laurence  only  laughed  the  more,  and 
jerked  him  up  again  with  a  smart  twitch  of  the  line,  which 
was  a  strong  one,  and  the  other  three  or  four  young  ruffians 
put  up  their  shoulders,  and  limped  about  singing — 

"  The  fishes  drink  water, 

Old  Crispin  drinks  gin  ; 
But  the  fishes  come  out 

When  the  hook  he  throws  in. 
Tol  de  rol." 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  105 

It  may  be  wondered  that  none  of  the  neighbours  interfered. 
But  it  must  be  remembered  that  they  were  accustomed,  not  only 
to  the  uproar  of  a  boyish  multitude,  but  to  the  drunken  ravings 
of  old  Brookes,  who  was  an  intolerable  nuisance.  Public  traffic 
then  was  not  as  now,  and  policemen  were  unborn. 

The  satisfaction  of  Laurence  was  at  its  height,  He  kept 
hold  of  the  line ;  one  of  his  comrades,  named  Barret,  lashed  the 
persecuted  man  with  an  eel  for  a  whip,  and  their  mirth  was 
boisterous,  when  Jabez  (now  thirteen)  came  quietly  through  the 
wicket  on  an  errand  from  the  governor. 

He  took  in  the  scene  at  a  glance.  He  could  not  stand  by 
and  see  injustice  done.  His  dark  eyes  flashed  with  indignation 
as  he  dashed  forward,  pulling  the  line  from  the  hand  of 
Laurence,  and  tried  to  disentangle  the  cruel  hook  from  the 
unfortunate  pigtail. 

"Who  asked  you  to  interfere?  you  petticoated  jackanapes!" 
bawled  Laurence,  darting  forward,  his  face  as  red  as  his  hair,  at 
the  same  time"  dealing  Jabez  a  heavy  blow  on  the  chest. 

"My  duty!"  answered  Jabez,  stoutly,  taking  no  notice  of  the 
sneer  at  himself.  "  How  could  you  gentlemen  torment  a  poor 
old  cripple  like  that?" 

"  He's  a  drunken  old  sot !"  cried   Barret. 

"It's  downright  cruel!"  continued  Jabez,  as  he  stood  between 
the  jabbering  drunkard  and  his  tormentors. 

"  We're  no  more  cruel  than  he  is !  He's  been  catching 
fishes  all  day.  We've  only  given  him  a  taste  of  his 
own  hook ;  and  we'll  have  none  of  your  meddling !"  and 
out  went  the  pugilistic  arm  of  Laurence  straight  from  the 
shoulder  to  deal  another  blow,  when  it  was  caught  from 
behind  by  the  bony  hand  of  Ben  Travis,  bigger  and  stronger 
by  two  years'  growth,  whilst  the  other  hand  gripped  his  jacket 
collar. 


io6  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN 

"So  you're  at  your  cowardly  tricks  again,  Aspinall  ?"  exclaimed 
he,  holding  the  other  as  if  in  a  vice.  But  if  I  see  you  lay 
another  ringer  on  that  lad,  I'll  report  you  to  Dr.  Smith." 

"Oh!  you'd  turn  sneak,  would  you?"  sneered  Laurence, 
striving  to  twist  himself  loose,  and  disordering  his  broad  white 
frill  in  the  endeavour. 

"  I'd  think  I  did  the  Grammar  School  a  service  to  turn 
either  you  or  Barret  out  of  it,  I  would  !  Think  of  you  setting 
on  that  noble  chap  who  wouldn't  turn  tell-tale,  though  he'll 
carry  the  mark  of  your  boot  to  his  grave  with  him  !" 

Pointing  with  outstretched  hand  to  Jabez,  who,  by  this  time, 
was  handing  old  Brookes  over  to  the  grumbling  care  of  Tabitha, 
and  whose  right  eyebrow  yet  showed  a  red  seam,  Travis  relaxed 
his  hold  of  Laurence,  and  he  shook  himself  free. 

Some  warm  altercation  followed.  There  was  a  scowl  of  sullen 
defiance  on  Aspinall's  face,  and  an  evil  glance  towards  Jabez, 
which  Travis  observing,  with  a  significant  nod  he  linked  his  arm 
in  that  of  the  Blue-coat  boy,  and  never  left  him  till  he  reached 
his  destination,  Mr.  Hyde's  ancient  and  picturesque  tea-shop,  in 
Market-street  Lane.  Yet  it  meant  a  detour  by  Cateaton  Street, 
to  leave  an  important  note  from  Dr.  Stone  at  the  shop  of  Ford, 
the  dealer  in  rare  books,  and  a  stretch  up  Smithy  Door  to  the 
Market  Place,  where  the  office  of  Harrop  the  printer  confronted 
them,  and  the  trusty  messenger  had  to  wait. 


SMITHY-DOOR    AND    CATEATON    STREET 


CHAPTER    THE    TWELFTH. 

THE.    GENTLEMAN. 

OHAT  afternoon  a  gentleman  who  had  witnessed  part 
of  the  foregoing  scene  from  the  breeches-maker's 
window,  whither  he  had  gone  for  a  pair  of  buckskin 
riding-gloves — struck  by  the  dauntless  manner  of 
Jabez,  related  what  he  had  seen  to  his  wife,  Mrs.  Ashton,  the 
stately  sister  of  Mrs.  Chadwick;  whilst  Augusta,  their  eight-year-old 
daughter,  sat  on  a  footstool  by  her  side,  hemming  a  bandana 
handkerchief  for  her  father,  an  inveterate  snuff-taker — occasionally 
putting  in  a  word,  as  only  spoiled  daughters  did  in  those  days. 

"  Mamma,  I  daresay  that's  the  little  boy  Cousin  Ellen  told 
me  about," 

"  Pooh,  pooh !  Augusta,"  said  Mr.  Ashton,  tapping  the  lid  of 
his  snuff-box,  and  then,  from  force  of  habit,  handing  it  to  his 
wife,  the  wave  of  whose  hand  put  it  back — "pooh,  pooh !  child. 
Do  you  think  there's  only  one  Blue-coat  boy  in  the  town  ? 
Besides,  he  was  not  such  a  little  boy.  I  know  I  thought 
something  of  myself  when  I  was  his  size,"  said  Mr.  Ashton, 
dusting  the  snuff  from  his  ruffles  as  he  spoke. 

"  But  he  would  be  a  little  boy  when  Ellen  knew  him  first. 
She  says  it  was  before  I  was  born." 

"  He  could  not  be  a  Blue-coat  boy  then,  my  dear,"  observed 
Mrs.  Ashton;  "he  was  too  young," 


io8  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

"  But  Ellen  showed  him  to  me  when  we  went  to  the  College 
at  Easter;  and  she  says  he  has  killed  a  snake — a  real  live 
snake,  papa.  And  Aunt  Chadwick  bought  Ellen  such  a  pretty 
pincushion  he  had  worked,  and,  oh !  such  a  handsome  bead 
purse ! " 

Mr.  Ashton  smiled  at  his  daughter's  enthusiasm. 

"  Ah !  I  think  I  have  heard  of  him  before  ;  he  is  a  sort  of 
protigt  of  Parson  Brookes." 

"He  is  a  very  honest  boy,"  appended  Mrs.  Ashton,  as  she 
examined  Augusta's  hemming  by  the  light  of  the  nearest  wax 
candle.  "Ellen  lost  Prince  William's  shilling  that  same  day. 
You  know  she  always  wears  it  dangling  from  her  neck,  absurd 
as  it  is  for  a  great  girl  of  fifteen." 

"  Well  ? "   said  Augusta,  looking  up   inquiringly. 

"  Well,  my  dear,  the  very  next  afternoon,  the  boy  Jabez  Clegg 
knocked  at  the  door  in  Oldham  Street,  bearing  the  shilling, 
which  he  said  he  had  found  in  sweeping  the  library,  and 
remembered  seeing  it  on  Miss  Chadwick's  neck.  Many  a  boy, 
at  Easter,  would  have  spent  it  in  cakes  or  tony." 

"  I  suppose,  to  use  one  of  your  favourite  maxims,  he  must 
have  thought  'honesty  the  best  policy,'"  remarked  her  husband. 

"  Yes ;  and  '  duty  its  own  reward ' — for  he  refused  the 
half-crown  that  Sarah  offered  him." 

Mr.  Ashton  took  another  pinch  of  snuff,  with  grave  consideration, 
then  put  the  box,  after  some  deliberation,  into  his  deep  waistcoat 
pocket,  and  again  flapped  the  snuff  off  ruffles  and  neck-cloth  ends. 

"  Wouldn't  take  the   money,  you  say  ? " 

"  Would  not  take  it,"  his  wife  repeated,  folding  up  the  finished 
handkerchief. 

After  a  pause,   Mr.   Ashton   said,  with   his   head  on  one  side, — 

"  I  think  I  shall  look  after  that  younker.  What  is  he 
like?" 


THE   MANCHESTER    MAN.  109 

"  Oh !  that  I  cannot  tell ;  I  was  not  with  them.  But  I  think 
Sarah  said  he  had  got  an  ugly  scar  on  one  of  his  eyebrows." 

Mr.  Ashton  brought  down  his  hand  with  a  clap  on  that  of 
Augusta,  resting  on  his  knee. 

"Then,  my  little  Lancashire  witch,  the  poor  cripple's  champion 
and  Ellen's  hero  of  romance  will  be  one  and  the  same.  I  must 
certainly  look  after  that  lad." 

But  even  as  Mr.  Ashton  came  to  that  conclusion  Jabez  was 
in  mortal  peril,  and  his  romance  and  theirs  threatened  to  end 
at  the  beginning. 

Laurence  Aspinall  was  not  of  a  temper  to  brook  interference 
with  his  sport,  or  to  be  treated  as  the  inferior  of  a  "  common 
charity  boy."  Since  the  hour  that  Jabez  had  declined  to  single 
him  out  for  punishment,  he  had  resented  the  sense  of  his  own 
inferiority,  which  conscience  pressed  upon  him.  In  refusing  to 
tender  either  thanks  or  apology  at  Ben  Travis's  instigation,  he 
lost  caste  in  the  school,  and  the  knowledge  rankled  in  his  breast. 
Against  the  debt  of  gratitude  he  owed  to  Jabez  he  laid  up  a 
fund  of  envy  and  spite,  out  of  which  he  meant  to  pay  him  in 
full  the  first  opportunity.  That  opportunity  had  arrived.  There 
were  some  birds  of  his  own  feather,  who  stuck  by  him,  of  whom 
Ned  Barret  was  one. 

Old  Brookes  had  been  too  drunk  to  swear  positively  who 
had  molested  him,  or  to  obtain  credence  if  he  did ;  but  the 
inopportune  arrival  of  Jabez  and  Ben  Travis  had  made  detection 
certain,  and  nothing  was  Joshua  Brookes  so  sure  to  punish  with 
severity  as  an  attack  on  the  father  who  made  his  life  a  burden 
to  him. 

On  the  principle  that  they  might  "as  well  be  hanged  for  a 
sheep  as  a  lamb,"  the  noble  five  resolved  to  waylay  the  Blue- 
coat  boy  on  his  return,  and  either  extract  from  him  a  promise 
of  secrecy,  or  give  him  a  sound  drubbing  for  his  pains. 


no  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

They  were  too  like-minded  for  long  conference.  To  put  the 
old  breeches-maker  off  the  scent,  all  dispersed  but  one,  Kit 
Townley,  who  pulled  a  top  from  his  pocket  and  whipped  away 
at  it  with  as  much  energy  as  ever  did  his  Anglo-Saxon  ancestors. 
Perhaps  he  thought  he  had  a  meddlesome  College  boy  under 
his  lash. 

After  a  time,  the  others  sauntered  back  one  by  one,  from 
contrary  directions  ;  there  was  more  top-whipping,  and  some  ot 
the  whips  and  tops  were  new,  Then  when  they  saw  they  were 
unobserved,  they  adjourned  to  the  school-yard,  and  laying  a  cap 
on  the  broad  step,  two  or  three  of  them  sat  down  to  a  game 
at  cob-nut,  so  that  if  any  unlikely  straggler  did  come  that  way 
there  might  be  an  apparent  reason  for  their  presence. 

It  was  late  in  the  year.  The  breeches-maker  was  seated  at 
early  tea,  and  so  were  most  of  his  neighbours.  The  twilight 
was  coming  gently  down,  and  the  boys,  tired  of  waiting,  were 
about  to  go  home  to  their  own — Aspinall  expecting  a  reprimand 
for  being  late.  Jabez,  who  had  been  delayed  at  the  office  of 
Harrop  the  printer  in  the  Market  Place,  came  briskly  up  with 
a  parcel  in  his  hand  just  as  they  reached  the  gate.  One  of 
them  snatched  the  parcel  from  him  and  ran  with  it  into  the 
school-yard.  As  a  natural  consequence  Jabez  followed  to  regain 
his  property. 

That  was  just  what  they  wanted.  The  light  iron  gate  was 
pushed-to,  and  there  they  were,  shut  in  and  screened  from 
observation,  between  the  deserted  Grammar  School  on  the  one 
hand,  and  the  College  School-room  on  the  other,  which  with 
the  dormitory  above,  was  equally  sure  to  be  empty  at  that  hour. 
They  were  free  to  torment  him  as  they  pleased.  The  parcel 
was  tossed  from  hand  to  hand  with  subdued  glee,  and  their 
whip-lashes  and  strung  cob-nuts  cut  at  his  arms  and  shoulders, 
as  Jabez  sprang  forward  and  darted  hither  and  thither,  perplexed 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  m 

and  baffled  in  his  efforts  to  recover  it.  Once  or  twice  it  went 
down  on  the  damp  ground,  and  gained  in  grime  what  it  lost 
in  shape. 

"  Oh !  dear,  dear !  do  give  me  my  parcel ! "  cried  Jabez,  in 
perplexity.  "  Our  governor  will  think  I've  been  loitering." 

"And  so  you  have,  you  canting  yellow-skirt.  You  stopped 
to  put  your  long  finger  in  our  pie!"  was  the  swift  retort  of 
Laurence,  as  he  interposed  his  body  between  Jabez  and  the  boy 
who  held  his  lost  charge. 

"  Eh !    and    you    went    off   with  Travis,  wasting  your  time ! " 
added   Kit   Townley. 

"  I   never  waste   my   time  on   an  errand." 

"  Oh !  Miss  Nancy  never  wastes  time  on  an  errand,"  mimicked 
Ned  Barret ;  and  still  they  kept  the  boy  on  the  run,  until  he 
leaned,  out  of  breath,  against  the  wall  which  served  as  a  parapet 
above  the  river. 

Then,    the    disputed    prize    being    kept    by   Kit   Townley   at   a 
respectable  distance,  Laurence  advanced  to  parley  with  him,  offer 
ing    to    restore    his    parcel    and    let    him    go    if  he    would    take 
a    solemn    oath,    which    he    dictated,    to    maintain    silence  on   all 
which  had   transpired   that   afternoon. 

"  I  cannot ;  I  must  account  for  my  time,"  firmly  answered 
Jabez,  "and  I  must  account  for  that  dirty  parcel." 

"Tell  them  you  tumbled  down  and  hurt  yourself,"  suggested 
Aspinall. 

"  I   cannot ;    it  would  be   untrue  !  " 

At  this  the  lads  set  up  a  loud  guffaw,  as  if  truth  were 
somewhat  out  of  fashion  ;  but  the  one  who  stood  nearest 
the  gate  with  the  parcel  looked  restless,  as  if  beginning  to 
be  tired  of  the  whole  business.  Just  then  Laurence  went 
blustering  up  to  the  College  boy,  and,  thrusting  his  face  forward, 
said — 


H2  THE   MANCHESTER    MAN. 

"  If  you  don't  go  down  on  your  marrow-bones  this  instant, 
and  swear  to  tell  no  tales,  \ve'll  pitch  you  over  the  wall." 

"  You   dare   not ! "   boldly   retorted  Jabez,   with   a   set   face. 

"Oh!    daren't  we?      We'll   see   that!       Lend   a  hand." 

"  No,  you  dare  not ! "  repeated  he,  planting  himself  firmly 
against  the  wall. 

There  was  a  sudden  rush ;  they  closed  round  him,  more  in 
bravado  than  with  any  intent  to  do  him  bodily  harm ;  sliding 
him  up  against  the  smooth-worn  brickwork,  they  hoisted  him 
above  their  shoulders,  meaning  to  hold  him  there.  But  in  their 
eagerness  they  had  thrust  him  too  far,  and  crowding  on  each 
other,  one,  being  jostled,  let  go,  and  Jabez  toppled  over  the 
precipice  ! 

There  was  a  scream  ;  a  splash  in  the  water.  Tabitha,  taking 
clothes  from  a  line  in  the  back-yard,  cried  out,  "  What  is 
that  ? "  Parson  Brookes'  startled  pigeons  flew  from  their  dove- 
cote, and  wheeling  round  in  widening  circles,  cooed  affrightedly. 

The  white-faced  boys  stood  aghast.  Unless  his  fall  had  been 
seen  from  the  opposite  croft,  their  victim  would  be  drowned 
before  any  aid  they  could  bring  was  available ;  a  wide  circuit 
must  be  taken  before  a  bridge  could  be  reached.  Buildings 
blocked  up  that  side  of  the  river.  They  looked  at  each  other 
and  spoke  in  whispers ;  then,  with  an  animal  instinct  of  self- 
preservation,  sneaked  off  in  silence  and  terror,  leaving  him  to 
his  fate. 

Not  all.  Kit  Townley,  who  held  the  parcel,  had  drawn  near 
to  remonstrate.  With  a  shriek  he  threw  down  the  paper,  and, 
hardly  conscious  what  he  did,  tore  wildly  through  the  gates, 
and  across  the  College  Yard,  to  startle  the  first  he  met  with 
the  alarm  that  a  College  boy  was  drowning  in  the  Irk ! 


CHAPTER    THE    THIRTEENTH. 

SIMON'S    PUPIL. 

T  was  fortunate  for  Jabez 
that  the  late  rains  had 
raised  the  level  of  the 
Irk ;  otherwise,  that  being 
the  shallowest  part  of  the 
stream,  there  would  not 
have  been  sufficient  depth 
of  water  to  buoy  him  up 
when  he  was  pitched  over 
the  wall  ;  and  had  his 
head  come  in  contact  with 
rock  or  stone,  falling  from 
such  an  elevation,  his 
history  would  have  closed 
with  the  last  chapter.  It 

was  doubly  fortunate  that  sensible  Simon  had  taught  him  that 
without  which  no  boy's  education — nor,  indeed,  any  girl's  either — 
is  complete,  and  that  Jabez,  from  very  love  of  the  water,  had 
kept  himself  in  practice  whenever  a  holiday  had  given  him 
opportunity. 

He  had  gone  over  the  wall  backwards,  turning  a  somersault 
as  he  fell,  and  so  clearing  the  rock,  but  not  altogether  unprepared  ; 
and  to  him  head  first,  heels  first,  forward  or  backward,  were  all 


JABEZ  ON  CELLAR  STEPS. 


H4  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

as  one.  Like  a  cork  he  rose,  and  struck  out  across  the  river. 
The  slimy  stone  embankment  seemed  to  slip  from  his  touch ; 
there  was  no  hold  for  his  hand  ;  it  was  too  steep  and  smooth 
to  climb ;  and  he  felt  that  the  river,  swift  in  its  fulness,  was 
bent  on  bearing  him  to  the  Irvvell,  so  dangerously  near. 

He  raised  his  voice  for  "  Help  ! "  Tabitha,  listening,  answered 
with  a  scream  and  a  shout,  and,  bolting  into  the  house,  disturbed 
the  Parson  and  his  besotted  father  "at  their  tea"  by  the  outcry 
she  made,  as  she  rushed  on  into  the  street  with  the  alarm  of 
"  A  lad  dreawndin ! "  just  as  the  conscious  culprits  slunk  past  to 
their  own  quarters. 

Doctor  Stone,  the  first  recipient  of  terrified  Kit  Townley's 
incoherent  intelligence,  was  simultaneously  racing  at  full  speed, 
with  a  troop  of  College  boys  at  his  heels,  down  towards  Hunt's 
Bank  and  the  outlet  of  the  Irk,  with  the  swift  consciousness 
that  the  only  hope  of  saving  life  was  in  the  chance  of  reaching 
the  confluence  of  the  rivers  first.  He  thought  the  dusk  never 
came  down  so  rapidly.  A  lamplighter,  with  ladder  and  flaring 
long-spouted  oil-can  light,  was  going  his  rounds. 

"Turn  back,  my  man,  with  ladder  and  light,"  he  called  out, 
without  stopping ;  and  the  man,  seeing  something  unusual  was 
astir  or  amiss,  followed  at  a  canter  without  question. 

At  Irk  Bridge  the  librarian  took  the  light  from  the  man,  and 
swung  it  to  cast  its  reflection  over  the  Irwell ;  but  nothing  was 
to  be  seen  or  heard  but  the  full  river,  and  the  wash  of  its 
waters.  To  cross  the  bridge,  in  fear  that  the  boy  was  beyond 
help,  was  but  the  work  of  a  moment. 

Slower,  along  the  wooden  railing  of  the  Irk  embankment,  he 
held  the  lamp  low.  There  was  neither  eddy  or  bubble  on  the 
water  to  tell  where  a  drowning  mortal  had  gone  down. 

"  Jabez  !  Jabez  Clegg !  "  he  cried,  but  there  was  no  response. 
Again  and  again  he  [raised  his  voice — "  Jabez !  Jabez  !  "  The 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  115 

only  answer  was  from  an  advancing  crowd,  with  Parson  Brookes 
and  Tabitha  in  their  midst,  who  had  rushed  to  the  rescue  with 
ropes  and  poles  down  the  bridge  at  Mill  Brow. 

"  I  fear  it's  no  use,  Parson  Brookes,"  said  the  librarian  sadly  ; 
"  the  river's  high,  and  poor  Jabez  may  have  been  drifting  past 
Stannyhurst  before  we  were  out  of  the  College  Yard." 

"  Jabez  ?  "  exclaimed  Joshua  aghast,  "  you  cannot  mean  that 
Jabez  Clegg  is  the  boy  drowned  !  "  and  he  staggered  as  if  some 
one  had  struck  him. 

"  Indeed,  Parson,  if  this  boy  speaks  truth,  I  fear  it  is  so," 
and  he  turned  to  question  his  informant  ;  but  Kit  Townley, 
seeing  his  impulsive  schoolmaster  approach,  had  edged  away, 
and  was  gone. 

Gruff  Joshua  drew  the  back    of   his    hand    across    his  shaggy 
brows. 

"  And  so  the  greedy  river  has  swallowed  the  bright  lad  at 
last  !  He  was  a  boy  of  promise,  Dr.  Stone,  and  his  untimely 
fate  is  a — a — trouble  to  me ; "  and  the  rough  Parson's  harsh 
voice  shook  with  emotion.  "  I  baptised  him,  Doctor,  and  I  hoped 
to  see  him  grow  up  a  credit  to  us  all." 

They,  and  the  dispersing  crowd,  seeing  the  uselessness  of 
longer  stay,  were  moving  on  towards  Mill  Brow  as  he  spoke. 

"  Who's  this  ? "  he  cried,  as  they  neared  the  bridge,  and  a 
working  woman,  her  hair  flying  loose  from  the  kerchief  on  her 
head,  rushed  across  it  with  an  impetus  gained  in  the  steep 
descent. 

It  was  Bess,  with  Simon  at  her  heels,  close  as  his  stiff 
rheumatic  limbs  would  carry  him.  She  wrung  her  hands  bitterly. 

"Is  it  true?"  she  cried  in  anguish,  "is  it  true?  Oh,  Parson 
Bracks,  is  it  true  that  ar  Jabez  is  dreawnded  ? '' 

There  was  the   same   choking   in   his  voice   as   he   answerecj — 
"I'm   afraid   so,   Bess." 


n6  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Simon's  voice   now  broke  in. 

"  But  are  yo'  sartain,  Parson  ?  Ar  Jabez  couldn  swim  loike 
a  duck.  An'  how  cam'  he  i'  th'  wayther,  aw  shouldn  loike  to 
know?" 

"  Swim,  did  you  say  ? "  interrogated  Dr.  Stone.  "  Then  there 
may  be  hope  yet.  If  the  eddies  would  not  let  him  land  at 
Waterworth  Field,  he  might  swim  ashore  at  Stannyhurst." 

"Pray   God   it   be   so!"  ejaculated   Bess,   from   a   full   heart. 

Dr.    Stone,   hurrying  forward,   continued — 

"  Follow  me  to  the  College  for  lanterns  to  renew  the  search/' 
And  no  second  invitation  was  needed. 

And  where  was  Jabez  ?  He  heard  Tabitha's  cry,  but  it  came 
from  the  wrong  side,  and  he  had  sense  to  know  was  useless  to 
save,  unless  he  could  withstand  the  current  till  help  came  round. 
But  the  strong  stream  was  bearing  him  on  against  his  will. 
Suddenly  he  bethought  him  of  the  dairy  steps,  and,  with  a 
stroke  of  his  left  arm,  swerved  towards  the  hoary  building 
looming  through  the  twilight.  One  moment  later,  and  the  steps 
had  been  passed,  not  to  be  recovered,  for  the  current  was 
stronger  than  he ;  but  that  providentially  abrupt  turn,  and  a  few 
skilful  strokes  brought  him  upon  them.  Literally  upon  them,  for 
the  water  was  within  a  few  steps  of  the  door.  With  difficulty 
he  obtained  a  footing,  they  were  so  slippery.  Once  above  the 
water,  he  hammered  at  the  door  and  called,  but  his  voice  was 
weakened  by  exertion  and  the  shivering  consequent  on  cold, 
wet,  clinging  garments.  Again  and  again  he  knocked  and  called, 
but  everyone  was  out  in  the  quadrangle,  or  away  in  search  of 
him,  and  no  one  heard. 

He  had  been  excited  and  over-heated  in  his  prolonged 
struggle  with  his  persecutors,  and,  short  as  was  the  distance  he 
swam,  his  efforts  to  stem  the  overmastering  current  had  exhausted 
him,  Cold  and  exposure  did  the  rest.  He  sank  on  the  topmost 


I       '  —  '- 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  117 

step  with  his  head  against  the  door,  in  the  angle  it  formed 
with  the  wall,  his  feet  in  the  water ;  and  there  he  lay,  too 
faint  to  respond  when  Dr.  Stone's  voice  fell  on  his  ear  as  on 
that  of  a  dreamer.  His  dark  robe,  his  position,  the  jutting 
wall — all  contributed  to  hide  him  from  the  poor  rays  of  the 
one  oil-lamp  which  was  flashed  along  the  stream  to  find 
him. 

And  there  he  might  have  lain  and  died  had  not  Nancy,  for 
lack  of  a  boy  at  hand  to  wait  on  her,  gone  down  to  the  cellar 
for  milk  for  the  boys'  supper.  As  she  filled  the  wooden  piggin 
she  had  taken  with  her,  she  fancied  she  heard  a  moan,  and, 
listening  breathless,  heard  another,  and  another,  from  the  outside 
of  a  door  which  was  (to  her  thought)  inaccessible  to  mortal. 

Down  went  the  piggin  and  the  milk  (she  was  not  a  strong- 
minded  woman,  and  it  was  a  superstitious  age),  up  the  steps 
she  stumbled  in  her  fright,  crying — 

"  Oh,  theer's   a  boggart   in   th'   dairy ! — theer's   a  boggart !  " 

Dr.  Stone  and  his  companions  came  in  at  the  porch  as  she 
fled  upwards  towards  the  kitchen.  The  firelight  gleaming  on  her 
frightened  face  caught  his  attention.  Half- fainting  she  repeated 
her  exclamation,  adding — 

"  It   moaned  like  summut   wick." 

"Moaned,   did   you   say?     Goodness!     If  it  should   be " 

Not  stopping  to  finish  his  sentence,  he  snatched  a  light  from 
the  table,  and  was  unbolting  the  cellar-door  before  the  governor 
or  anyone  else  could  comprehend  his  movements.  They 
understood  well  enough  when  he  came  back  into  their  midst, 
burdened  with  the  limp,  dripping  form  of  Jabez,  white  and 
insensible,  and  depositing  him  on  a  settle  near  the  kitchen  fire, 
cried  out  for  restoratives. 

That  was  a  terrible  next  morning,  when  the  young  miscreants, 
as  much  afraid  to  play  truant  as  to  face  possibilities  at  school, 


n8  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

sneaked  to  their  places  and  set  to  their  studies  with  industry 
out  of  the  common.  Laurence  Aspinall,  boarding  with  a  master, 
had  no  choice  in  the  matter. 

How  Jabez  got  into  the  water  was  not  clear ;  he  was  too  ill 
to  be  questioned  over-night,  and  was  in  a  fever  and  delirious  by 
noon  the  next  day.  But  he  had  never  been  known  to  loiter  or 
go  astray  when  sent  on  an  errand.  Kit  Townley's  impulsive  cry 
of  alarm  had  suggested  foul  play,  and  neither  Joshua  Brookes  nor 
Governor  Terry  had  let  the  night  pass  without  an  effort  to  dive 
into  the  truth. 

Dr.  Stone  had  conjectured  Kit  Townley  to  be  a  Grammar 
School  boy,  although  personally  unknown  to  him  ;  and  that 
conjecture  recalled  to  Joshua  his  father's  ravings  of  ill-usage,  which 
he  had  at  the  time  regarded  as  drunken  maudling.  It  was 
ascertained  that  the  boy  had  been  at  Ford's  and  at  Harrop's. 
Inquiry,  and  the  search  for  the  missing  parcel,  resulted  in  the 
discovery  of  a  trampled  playground,  broken  whiplashes,  a  string 
of  cobnuts,  and,  neatly  marked  in  red  cotton  with  his  initials, 
one  of  Laurence  Aspinall's  cambric  ruffles,  torn  and  muddy  as 
the  parcel. 

There  was  a  conference  with  Dr.  Jeremiah  Smith  before  the 
night  was  out.  A  messenger  was  sent  to  Mr.  Aspinall  in  Cannon 
Street  the  next  morning,  as  well  as  to  the  trustees  of  the 
school. 

The  following  day  saw  such  another  conclave  as  before  in  the 
Grammar  School.  Dr.  Stone,  who  was  present,  picked  out  the 
boy  who  had  given  the  alarm;  and  Kit  Townley,  trembling  for 
himself,  told  all  he  knew.  Ben  Travis,  at  the  outset,  in  his 
indignation,  proffered  his  evidence,  which  went  to  prove  malice 
prepense. 

The  boys,  asked  what  they  had  to  say  for  themselves,  simply 
answered  they  had  done  it  for  "sport" — that  they  did  not  mean 


THE   MANCHESTER   MAN. 


iig 


to  throw  him  over,  but  only  to  frighten  him  to  "hold  his  tongue," 
and  excused  their  running  home  on  the  plea  that  they  were 
"afraid,"  Laurence  Aspinall  boldly  said  that  he  knew  the  boy 
could  swim  and  did  not  think  a  ducking  would  do  him  much 
harm,  and  offered  to  jump  off  the  wall  and  swim  down  the  river 
himself.  Liar  as  well  as  boaster,  he  received  a  summary  check 
from  Dr.  Smith,  apart  from  the  reprimand  administered  to  him 
as  the  proven  ring-leader. 

In  these  days  such  a  case  of  outrage  would  have  been  brought 
before  a  magistrate,  and  the  offenders'  names  sent  flying  through 
newspaper  paragraphs.  Then,  whether  to  spare  the  parental  feelings 
of  such  influential  men  as  Mr.  Aspinall,  or  to  save  from  tarnish 
the  fair  fame  of  the  school,  or  to  avert  the  further  debasement 
of  the  boys  from  prison  contact,  and  give  them  a  chance  to 
amend,  the  school  tribunal  was  allowed  to  be  all-sufficient. 

Ignominious  expulsion  was  dealt  out  not  only  to  Laurence 
Aspinall  and  to  Ned  Barret,  but  to  each  of  the  conspirators — 
Kit  Townley,  honourably  acquitted  by  them  of  participation  in  the 
final  attack,  alone  escaping  with  a  caution,  a  severe  reprimand,  and 
as  severe  a  flogging ;  which  special  immunity  he  had  purchased 
by  running  white-faced  to  give  the  alarm.  It  is  possible  he 
scarcely  estimated  the  value  of  that  immunity  at  the  time. 

But  the  loud  hurrahs  which  hailed  this  sentence  testified  how 
the  Grammar  School  boys  valued  their  honour  as  a  school,  and 
how  proud  they  were  to  be  purged  of  such  offenders. 

Mr.  Aspinall,  too  much  agitated  to  witness  his  son's  public 
disgrace,  waited  the  result  of  the  inquiry  in  the  head-master's 
house  ;  and  if  ever  Laurence  Aspinall  felt  ashamed  of  his  own 
misconduct,  it  was  when  his  father  refused  to  take  his  unworthy 
hand  as  they  left  the  door-step,  and  he  heard  Dr.  Smith's  closing 
words  of  reproof  mingled  with  compassion  for  the  father,  in 
whose  eyes  were  signs  of  tears  a  bad  son  had  drawn. 


120  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Long  before  Jabez  was  able  to  resume  his  own  place  in  the 
school,  Laurence  Aspinall  had  been  removed  to  an  expensive 
boarding-school  at  Everton,  near  Liverpool  ;  and  this  time  the 
merchant  laid  stress  on  his  tendency  "  for  vicious  and  low 
pursuits,"  and  begged  that  no  efforts  or  expense  might  be  spared 
to  make  him  a  gentleman  in  all  respects.  Still  he  tampered 
with  the  truth,  lest  the  school-master  (he  would  be  called  a 
Principal  in  these  factitious  days)  should  refuse  to  admit  a  pupil 
with  such  antecedents,  and  decline  the  task  of  eradicating  cruelty 
and  ingratitude. 

Here  Laurence  certainly  mixed  only  with  boys  of  his  own 
class,  from  whom  money  could  buy  neither  flattery  nor  favour, 
and  where  only  his  own  merits  could  procure  either.  And  here 
we  must  leave  him,  to  pursue  the  fortunes  of  the  boy  whose 
life  he  had  wantonly  imperilled. 

Had  anything  been  wanting  to  bespeak  Joshua  Brookes's 
good-will,  Jabez  supplied  it  when  he  interfered  to  protect  the 
elder  Brookes  from  the  derisive  indignities  of  others.  Not  only 
to  Mrs.  Clowes  did  he  rehearse  in  his  own  peculiar  manner  the 
story,  as  told  by  Ben  Travis,  with  its  supplementary  drama  which 
had  so  nearly  proved  a  tragedy,  but  at  such  tables  as  he 
frequented — Mr.  Chadwick's  among  the  rest. 

Mr.  Ashton,  who  was  present,  spoke  of  being  himself  a  witness 
to  the  former  scene,  and,  whilst  presenting  his  inevitable  snuff- 
box to  the  eccentric  chaplain,  repeated  his  previous  observation — 
•'  I  must  look  after  that  boy — I  must  indeed  ! " 

If  the  parson  had  been  commonly  observant  he  would  have 
noticed  a  pair  of  black  eyes  fixed  in  eager  attention  on  his,  as 
he,  who  rarely  uttered  a  commendation,  held  forth  in  praise  of 
his  father's  champion,  the  Blue-coat  boy;  the  said  black  eyes 
being  matched  by  the  black  hair,  and  somewhat  dark  skin,  of 
the  plain  but  intelligent  daughter  of  his  host. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


121 


But  girls  of  fifteen  were  then  counted  in  the  category  of 
children,  and  were  taught  only  to  "speak  when  spoken  to,"  so 
Ellen  Chadwick  passed  no  other  commentary  on  the  actions  of 
Jabez  than  was  expressed  by  her  glowing  cheeks  and  eloquent 
eyes. 


• 


CHAPTER    THE    FOURTEENTH. 


JABEZ  GOES   INTO  THE  WORLD. 

SHARP     illness    followed     the 
precipitation  of  Jabez  into  the 
Irk  ;    but   he  was  young,  had 
a  strong  constitution,  and,  to 
the   satisfaction   of   all   in    the 
College,  and  many  out   of  it, 
was   able   to   take  his    place    in 
the  refectory,  and  clear  the  beef 
or     the     potato-pie      from     his 
wooden      trencher      before      the 
month   expired.       Prior    to   this, 
he    was    allowed    an    afternoon, 
ere    he    was     well     enough     to 
resume   fully  his   routine   duties, 
to    show    himself    to    the    kind 
friends  who  had  exhibited  most 
anxiety  for  his   recovery. 

Mrs.  Clowes  was  one  of 
these.  Jam,  jelly,  and  cakes, 
never  concocted  within  the  area  of  the  College,  had  found  their 
way  to  his  bedside.  Grateful  for  kindness  from  so  unlikely  a 
quarter,  Jabez  paid  his  first  visit  to  the  shop  in  Half  Street,  to 


KITCHEN   DOOR. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  123 

thank   the   queer   old   lady.      But   not  one   word   of  thanks   would 
she  hear. 

"  Eh,  lad,  say  naught  about  it ;  you  did  your  duty,  and  I 
did  mine,  and  so  we're  quits ; "  and  shook  her  open  hand  a  few 
inches  in  advance  of  her  face,  as  if  she  were  shaking  a  disclaimer 
out  of  it  "And  where  are  you  taking  your  white  face  to 
now  ? "  she  asked  quickly,  the  better  to  turn  the  tide  of  his 
stammering  thanks. 

"To  Aunt  BessV 

"  Why,  lad,  Bess  Clegg'll  have  naught  to  give  thee  fit  for 
sick  folk  to  eat.  It's  much  to  me  if  she'll  have  either  a  potato 
or  a  drop  of  milk.  If  she's  a  bit  of  jannock,  or  oat-cake,  it's 
as  much  as  the  bargain.  War  may  be  glorious  for  kings  and 
generals,  but  it's  awful  for  poor  folk ;  Mesters  can't  sell  their 
goods,  and  can't  pay  wages  bout  money ;  and  I've  heard  that, 
since  th'  potato  riots  in  Shudehill  last  spring,  the  folk  have  been 
so  clemmed  that  some  on  them  couldna  be  known  by  their 
friends  who  hadna  seen  them  for  awhile ;  they  were  naught  but 
skin  and  bone,  poor  things!" 

Whilst  indulging  in  this  tirade  against  war  and  its  concomitants, 
to  distract  his  attention,  she  bustled  about,  often  with  her  back 
to  him  ;  then  dived  into  her  parlour,  and  returned  with  a  basket, 
which  she  was  handing  to  him  with  a  charge  to  "  take  that  to 
Bess,  and  be  sure  to  bring  the  basket  back  safe,"  when  she  found 
that  Joshua  Brookes  was  standing  behind  Jabez,  amongst  waiting 
customers,  with  a  sharp  eye  on  her  proceedings. 

"I  say,  young  Cheat-the-fishes,  what  have  you  got  to  say  for 
yourself?  A  nice  young  ragamuffin  you  are,  to  go  a-bathing 
without  leave,  spoiling  your  clothes,  and  giving  yourself  cold ! 
I  hope  they  gave  you  plenty  of  physic,  to  teach  you  better," 
said  Joshua  roughly,  taking  the  boy  by  the  shoulder,  and  turning 
him  sharply  round  to  confront  him, 


. 


124  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

"Yes,  sir — they  gave  me  plenty  of  physic,"  said  Jabez,  doffing 
his  cap  respectfully.  "But  I  did  not  go  bathing;  I  got  into  the 
water  by  accident." 

"By  what?  Do  you  call  that  an  accident?"  growled  the  parson, 
to  get  at  the  boy's  meaning. 

"An  accident  done  a-purpose,"  chimed  in  Mrs.  Clowes,  whilst 
her  scales  jingled,  and  she  and  her  helper  weighed  out  her 
commodities  for  the  people  at  the  counter. 

"Yes,  sir,"  answered  Jabez,  composedly:  "it  must  have  been 
an  accident.  I  don't  think  they  really  could  mean  to  push  me 
over.  I  think  they  only  meant  to  frighten  me " 

"  Well  ? "   queried  Joshua,  seeing  that  he   hesitated. 

"I  think  one  of  them  slipped,  and  let  go,  and  then  I  slipped 
too,  sir,"  he  replied,  modestly. 

"  Slipped,  indeed !  You'd  very  nearly  slipped  into  the  next 
world!"  exclaimed  the  parson  "I  suppose  you'll  say  next  that 
my  poor  old  father  was  dragged  about  by  the  young  wretches 
by  accident,  too?" 

The  colour  of  Jabez  rose. 

"  No,   sir ;    that   was  very  cruel." 

"Oh!  you  do  call  some  things  by  their  right  names  (here,  let 
that  woman  pass  out).  I  suppose  you're  glad  enough  the  rascals 
have  got  their  deserts?" 

A  dubious  change  came  over  the  boy's  face.  He  did  not 
answer  at  once ;  he  hardly  knew  his  own  feelings  on  the  subject, 
The  question  was  repeated. 

"  Well,  sir,  I'm  glad  they  won't  be  there  to  torment  me  any 
more,  but  it  must  be  a  very  dreadful  thing  for  a  young  gentleman 
to  be  turned  out  of  school  in  disgrace,  and  I  don't  think  I  ought 
to  be  glad  of  that.  I  should  never  get  over  it,  if  it  was  me." 

"  Here,  take  your  basket,  and  be  off  with  you  ! "  said  Joshua 
Brookes,  hurrying  him  out  of  the  shop,  that  he  might  stay  and 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  125 

rate  the  old  woman  for  "spoiling  young  Cheat-the-fishes,"  conscious 
all  the  while  that  he  had  been  doing  his  best  to  get  the  lad  a 
good  home  in  the  future. 

Bess  and  Simon  received  him  with  open  arms,  glad  not  only 
to  see  him  well  again,  but  thankful  he  had  been  placed  where  he 
was  secure  from  the  bitter  want  which  pinched  both  their  stomachs 
and  their  faces.  To  them  Mrs.  Clowes'  basket  brought  what  they 
had  not  seen  for  months — a  white  loaf  and  a  good  lump  of  cold 
meat,  to  say  nothing  of  a  tiny  paper  of  tea,  and  some  sugar — 
those  luxuries  of  the  rich — and  half-a-crown  in  another  paper. 

How  those  half-famishing  hard-workers,  whose  home  had  been" 
denuded   of  their    goods    to   keep    life   within    them,  thanked    old 
Mrs.   Clowes !      She  had   made   it  a   festival   to  them  indeed,  and 
all  for  the  sake  of  the  boy  they  had  kept. 

There  were  no  pigeons — these  had  been  sold  long  ago,  to  pay 
for  provisions,  though  much  against  Simon's  will.  The  cat  was 
there,  lean  and  gaunt ;  it  managed  to  pick  up  a  subsistence  some- 
how ;  and  the  big  bible  was  there — Simon  had  not  parted  with 
that,  though  the  bright  bureau  was  gone,  ay,  and  the  cradle  which 
had  been  an  ark  to  the  orphan. 

The  change  touched  Jabez  sorely.  Snugly  housed  and  fed 
within  the  College,  rumours  of  outer  poverty  made  no  lasting 
impression  ;  but  here  he  saw  its  grim  reality,  and  sitting  down  on 
the  three-legged  stool,  he  covered  his  face  with  his  hands  to  hide 
the  tears  called  up  by  that  insight  into  their  impoverished  condition. 
Yet  they  had  some  alleviation  of  their  pain.  Poverty  appeared 
to  have  lost  half  its  bitterness  for  Bess.  She  had  had  a  letter 
from  her  long-mourned  Tom,  and  the  joyful  news  served  to 
brighten  up  the  visit  for  Jabez  and  all. 

It  was  a  long  and  deeply  repentant  letter,  of  course,  written 
by  a  comrade.  It  was  dated  from  Badajoz,  and  had  been  a  weary 
while  in  reaching  them.  He  had  been  wounded  in  that  brilliant 


126  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

assault,  and  while  in  hospital  had  fallen  in  with  another  Lancashire 
lad,  also  wounded — no  other  than  the  boy  who  had  lent  a  hand 
to  rescue  the  infant  Jabez,  and  who  had  been  driven  to  enlist  by 
the  sharp  pangs  of  hunger,  only  two  years  before.  From  this 
young  fellow,  Private  John  Smith  (Tom  was  himself  a  Corporal), 
he  had  learned  how  grievously  his  Bess  had  been  slandered  ;  but 
with  that  knowledge  had  come  the  conviction  that  he  had  con- 
demned her  hastily  and  harshly  on  mere  hearsay,  and  the  letter 
was  incoherent  in  its  remorseful  contrition.  In  his  soldier-life  he 
had  been  tossed  hither  and  thither — known  pain,  and  thirst,  and 
famine  ;  and  said  he  owed  it  all  to  his  own  jealous  credulity,  when 
he  ought  to  have  known  so  much  better.  He  told  of  marchings 
and  counter-marchings,  battles  and  bloodshed  ;  but  of  never  one 
wound  to  himself,  though  he  had  not  "  cared  a  cast  of  the  shuttle " 
for  his  life  until  that  bayonet-thrust  which  had  laid  him  side  by 
side  with  John  Smith,  who  had  lost  an  eye.  But  he  wound  up 
with  a  prayer  for  Bess  and  himself,  and  a  hope  for  their  re-union, 
if  the  war  should  ever  end.  He  "  was  sick  of  it." 

All  that  letter  was  to  Bess  and  Simon,  Jabez  could  not  com- 
prehend ;  but  he  took  Mrs.  Clowes  her  empty  basket,  and  went 
back  to  the  College  satisfied  that  one  ray  of  sunshine  lit  up  the 
poor  home  of  his  friends. 

And  Matthew  Cooper's  last  chance  was  gone. 

***** 

Mr.  Ashton  was  what  is  known  in  trade  as  a  small-ware  manu- 
facturer— that  is,  he  was  a  weaver  of  tapes,  inkles,  filletings  ;  silk, 
cotton,  and  worsted  laces  (for  furniture) ;  carpet  bindings,  brace-webs, 
and  fringes.  Moreover,  he  manufactured  braces  and  umbrellas,  for 
which  latter  his  brother-in-law  supplied  the  ginghams.  He  had 
at  work,  both  in  Manchester  and  at  Whaley-Bridge,  a  number  of 
swivel -engines,  the  design  of  which  came  from  those  unrivalled 
tape-weavers,  the  Dutch,  and  which  would  weave  twenty-four 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


127 


lengths  of  tape  or  bed-lace  at  one  time.  Otherwise,  the  bulk  of 
his  workpeople — winders,  warpers,  brace,  fringe,  and  umbrella- 
makers — carried  away  materials  to  their  own  homes,  and  brought 
back  their  work  in  a  finished  state. 

Mr.  Chadwick,  as  we  have  mentioned,  was  a  manufacturer  of 
ginghams — this  included  checks  and  fustians ;  but  much  of  his 
trade  being  foreign,  the  war  had  locked  up  his  resources,  and 
his  anxieties  preyed  on  his  health. 

Mr.  Ashton  had  suffered  less  in  this  particular,  not  having 
disdained  to  take  his  sensible  wife's  advice — "Never  put  too 
many  eggs  in  one  basket."  Mrs.  Ashton,  be  it  said,  had  a 
leaning  towards  "proverbial  philosophy"  more  homely  and  terse 
than  Tupper's,  which,  vulgar  as  it  is  accounted  now,  was 
in  esteem  when  our  century  was  young;  and,  had  it  been 
otherwise,  would  have  been  equally  impressive  from  her  deliberately 
modulated  utterance.  This  same  lady  had,  moreover,  an  aptitude 
for  business.  Mr.  Ashton  employed  a  number  of  young  women, 
and  Mrs.  Ashton  might  be  found  most  days  in  the  warehouse, 
either  "  putting  out "  or  inspecting  the  work  brought  in  by  them, 
with  a  gingham  wrapper  over  her  "silken  sheen."  If  the  footman 
announced  visitors,  the  wrapper  was  thrown  aside  in  a  moment, 
and  she  stepped  into  her  drawing-room  as  though  fresh  from 
her  toilette,  and  with  no  atmosphere  of  dozens,  grosses,  or  great- 
grosses  about  her. 

She  was  wont  to  say,  "  The  eye  of  a  master  does  more  work 
than  both  his  hands;"  accordingly  in  house  or  warehouse  her 
active  supervision  kept  other  hands  from  idling,  and  she  certainly 
dignified  whatever  duties  she  undertook,  whether  she  used  hands 
or  eyes  only. 

In  those  days  a  seven-years'  apprenticeship  to  any  trade  or 
business  was  deemed  essential ;  apprentices  were  part  and  parcel 
of  commercial  economy,  and  when  Mr,  Ashton  spoke  of  "looking 


128  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

after  that  boy,"  it  was  that  he  thought  Jabez  Clegg  bade  fair 
to  be  a  fitter  inmate  and  a  more  reliable  servant  than  others 
whose  terms  were  about  to  expire. 

Through  his  friend  the  Rev.  Joshua  Brookes  he  ascertained 
the  boy's  age  and  other  particulars,  and  sought  the  House- 
Governor,  Mr.  Terry,  and  laid  before  him  a  proposition  to  take 
Jabez  Clegg  as  his  apprentice,  on  very  fair  terms.  He  then 
learned  that  Mr.  Shaw,  the  saddler  at  the  bottom  of  Market- 
street  Lane,  was  also  desirous  to  obtain  the  same  Blue-coat  boy 
as  an  apprentice,  his  friend  the  leather-breeches  maker  having 
named  the  lad  to  him. 

At  the  Easter  meeting  of  feoffees  both  proposals  were  laid 
before  them — Simon  Clegg,  as  standing  in  loco  parentis  to  Jabez, 
being  present.  After  some  little  discussion  Mr.  Ashton's  proposal 
was  accepted,  to  the  great  satisfaction  of  the  tanner,  and  in  a 
few  days  Jabez  was  transferred  to  his  new  master  for  mutual 
trial  until  Ascension  Day,  when,  if  all  parties  were  satisfied, 
his  indentures  would  be  signed.  As  the  Governor  said,  it  had 
"been  but  the  toss  of  a  button"  whether  he  had  gone  to  Mr. 
Shaw  or  Mr.  Ashton,  yet  upon  that  toss  of  a  button  the  whole 
future  of  Jabez  depended. 

The  boy  entered  on  his  new  career  under  good  auspices — 
that  is,  he  bore  with  him  a  good  character  for  steadiness  and 
probity,  though  nothing  was  said  of  brilliant  parts,  or  any  special 
talent  which  he  possessed.  Indeed,  his  schoolmaster  had  said 
that  only  his  indomitable  perseverance  had  enabled  him  to  keep 
pace  with  others.  If  he  had  any  latent  genius — any  particular 
vocation,  no  one  had  discovered  it  ;  his  faculty  for  disfiguring 
doors  and  walls  with  devices  in  coloured  chalks,  picked  up 
amongst  the  gravel,  had  been  matter  for  punishment,  not  praise, 
and  none  but  the  College-boys  themselves  cared  to  know  where 
the  fresh  patterns  for  purses  and  pincushions  came  from, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN, 


129 


Steadiness,  perseverance,  probity — they  were  good  materials  out 
of  which  to  manufacture  a  tradesman  (so  Mr.  Ashton  thought), 
and  congratulations  were  mutual. 

Jabez  Clegg  went,  with  his  new  outfit,  to  his  new  home  under 
good  auspices,  inasmuch  as  both  master  and  mistress  were  pre- 
possessed in  his  favour,  and  they  stood  in  the  foremost  rank  of 
those  who  began  to  recognise  that  English  apprentices  were  not 
bondslaves  in  heathendom.  Instead  of  being  crammed  to  sleep  like 
dogs  in  holes  under  counters;  left  to  wash  at  a  pump  and  wipe 
themselves  where  they  could ;  obliged  to  sit  at  a  table  in  a 
back  kitchen,  and  dip  their  spoons  into  one  common  dish  of 
porridge,  or  potatoes  and  buttermilk ;  to  eat  such  scraps  and 
refuse  as  sordid  employers,  or  ill-disposed  cooks,  chose  to  set 
before  their  primitive  Adamite  forks — instead  of  a  system  like 
this,  from  which  apprentices  (of  whatever  grade)  only  emerged 
at  the  beginning  of  this  century,  the  Ashtons'  apprentices  had  a 
comfortable  dormitory  in  the  attic,  there  was  a  coarse  jack-towel 
by  the  scullery-sink  for  their  use,  they  had  their  meals  with  the 
servants  in  the  kitchen,  where  was  an  oak  settle  by  the  fire  for 
them  when  work  was  over. 

But  work  did  not  end  with  the  close  of  the  warehouse.  They 
were  expected  to  keep  their  attic  clean  and  in  order,  to  cleanse 
the  wooden  or  pewter  platters,  or  porringers,  from  which  they 
had  dined  or  supped  ;  to  rinse  the  horns  which  had  held  their 
table-beer ;  to  fetch  and  carry  wood,  coals,  and  water,  for 
servants  too  lazy  to  do  their  own  work ;  and  it  was  not  much 
rest  any  apprentice  had  from  five  or  six  in  a  morning  until 
eight  or  nine  at  night,  when  he  went  to  his  bed. 

As  the  youngest  apprentice,  the  roughest  of  this  work  fell  on 
Jabez,  but,  luckily,  his  training  had  made  him  equal  to  the 
occasion  ;  though  Kezia,  the  red-faced  cook,  set  herself  steadfastly 
to  dislike  him,  because  Mr.  Ashton  had  bespoken  her  favour  for 


130  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

him.  In  the  warehouse,  too,  the  evident  goodwill  of  principals 
roused  the  jealousy  of  underlings,  so  that  "  good  auspices "  had 
their  corresponding  drawbacks. 

It  was  not  much  of  a  pleasure  to  Jabez  to  find  Kit  Townley 
also  seated  as  an  apprentice  on  the  kitchen  settle ;  but  the 
youth  seemed  disposed  to  be  friendly,  and  Jabez  forbore  to 
create  a  grievance  by  recalling  unpleasant  reminiscences.  With 
Kit  Townley,  who  was  his  senior  by  a  year,  a  heavy  premium 
had  been  paid,  and  on  this  he  was  inclined  to  presume.  But 
neither  Mr.  nor  Mrs.  Ashton  made  any  social  distinction  between 
the  twain,  and  Jabez  was  strong  enough  to  hold  his  own. 

During  the  few  weeks'  probation,  Jabez  was  transferred  from 
department  to  department,  alike  to  test  his  capacity  and  his 
own  liking  for  the  business.  Both  proved  satisfactory. 

On  Ascension  Day,  1813,  there  was  another  appearance  in 
that  ancient  room  before  the  College  magnates,  many  of  whom, 
as  officers  in  volunteer  regiments,  were  in  full-dress  uniform  (a 
dinner  pending).  The  indentures  had  to  be  signed,  the  premium 
of  £4.  (returnable  to  the  boy  when  his  term  expired)  had  to  be 
paid. 

Simon  Clegg's  best  clothes  had  long  been  lost  in  the 
pawnbroker's  bottomless  pit ;  but  some  one  unknown  (mayhap 
Mrs.  Clowes  or  Mrs.  Clough)  had  sent  him  overnight  a  suit  of 
fresh  ones,  pronounced  by  him  and  Bess  "  welly  as  good  as 
new ;"  and  he  presented  himself  for  the  important  ceremony 
(overlooked  by  the  painted  face  of  the  orphan's  benevolent 
friend,  Humphrey  Chetham)  as  proud  almost  of  his  own  restored 
respectability  as  of  the  part  he  was  about  to  perform.  When 
it  came  to  his  turn  to  sign  the  document,  the  little  man  took 
the  pen  with  a  flourish,  as  if  he  were  a  hero  about  to  perform 
some  mighty  action.  He  stooped  to  the  heavy  oaken  table, 
bent  his  head  low,  alternately  to  the  right  and  left,  and  with 


HUMPHREY    CHETHAM. 
Fro tn   ait    Engraving, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  ^j 

his  fingers  in  an  unaccountable  crump,  imprinted  his  self-taught 
signature  in  Roman  capitals  thereon,  then  handed  back  the  quill, 
as  if  to  say  "The  deed  is  done!" 

Governor,  schoolmaster,  and  feoffees  congratulated  Mr.  Ashton 
and  Jabez  both.  Simon,  with  moist  eyes,  shook  Jabez  by  the 
hand,  and  holding  the  boy's  shoulder  with  his  left  to  look  the 
better  in  his  clear,  dark  eyes,  said,  with  deliberate  emphasis — 

"Jabez,  lad,  aw'm  preawd  on  yo'  this  day.  But  moind — 
thah's  an  honourable  neame ;  do  nowt  to  disgrace  it,  an'  yo'r 
fortin's  made  !" 

Jabez  was  too  abashed  to  make  reply  at  the  time ;  but  at 
the  supper  given  in  the  Mosley  Street  kitchen  to  mark  his 
installation  at  Mr.  Ashton's — to  which  Bess  and  Simon  were  both 
invited — Jabez  contrived  to  whisper, 

"  You  needn't  clem  any  more,  Bess ;  I'll  give  you  all  my 
wages." 


CHAPTER    THE    FIFTEENTH. 

APPRENTICESHIP. 

TABEZ  now  began  his  work  in  earnest,  in  the  packing- 
room — the  very  lowest  rung  of  the  ladder.  Not  long 
did  he  remain  there.  The  bright  colours  in  the  rooms 
for  brace-webs  and  upholsterers'  trimmings  had  an 
attraction  for  him,  and  he  argued  with  himself  that  the  better 
he  did  the  rough  work  assigned  him  the  sooner  he  should  mount 
above  it.  And  Jabez,  the  plodding  Blue-coat  boy,  was  ambitious. 
That  ambition  had  a  threefold  stimulus. 

Manchester  people  were  then,  as  a  rule,  steady  church  and 
chapel-goers.  Mr.  Ashton  had  two  pews  at  the  Old  Church : 
one  for  his  family,  the  other  for  servants  and  apprentices,  the 
attendance  of  the  latter  being  imperative.  Jabez  thus  came  in 
frequent  contact  with  his  old-time  friends,  from  the  Blue-coat 
boys  in  the  Chetham  Gallery  to  the  Cleggs,  to  whom  went 
every  penny  of  his  earnings  ;  their  distress,  like  that  of  others, 
having  deepened  with  the  continuation  of  the  Napoleonic  war. 

Sometimes  old  Mrs.  Clowes,  meeting  him  in  the  churchyard, 
would  grasp  him  by  the  hand,  and  leave  something  in  it,  as, 
in  her  old  black  stuff  dress  and  a  coloured  kerchief  tied  over  her 
mob-cap,  she  hurried  home  to  scold  dilatory  handmaids,  and  put 
her  Christianity  in  practice  amongst  her  pensioners. 

Now  and  then  Joshua  Brookes  crossed  his  path,  and  if  he 
did  not  put  his  hand  in  his  breeches'  pocket  for  Jabez — now  a 


THE   MANCHESTER   MAN.  133 

well-grown  youth — he  gave  him  more  than  sterling  coin  in 
sterling  advice,  though,  unfortunately,  in  so  abrupt  and  grotesque 
a  manner  its  effect  was  frequently  lost.  Yet  one  day  when  the 
Blue-coat  boy  had  been  barely  two  years  at  the  Mosley  Street 
manufacturer's,  he  put  a  spur  into  the  sides  of  his  ambition. 

"Young  Cheat-the-fishes,  were  you  ever  in  Mrs.  Chad  wick's 
green  parlour?" 

"  Yes,  sir — I  was  there  once  for  half-an-hour."  (The  day  he 
took  back  Miss  Ellen's  shilling.) 

"Well,   did   you   read   the  sermons   on   the   walls?" 

Jabez   answered   respectfully — 

"  I  did  not  see  any  sermons,  sir.  I  saw  some  pictures  in 
black  frames  with  gilt  roses  at  the  corners." 

"And   didn't  look  at   them,   I   suppose?"   in  a   harsh   grunt. 

"  Yes,  sir,  I  did !  I  was  waiting  till  Mrs.  Chad  wick  had  done 
dinner.  They  were  about  two  boys — a  good  and  a  bad  apprentice." 

"Oh,  then,  you  did  use  your  eyes?  The  next  time  they  let 
you  inside  that  room,  just  use  your  understanding,  too.  William 
Hogarth,  the  artist,  from  his  grave  preaches  a  sermon  to  you 
and  your  fellows  as  good  as  Parson  Gatliffe  preached  from  the 
pulpit  this  morning,  mark  that ! "  and  he  turned  on  his  heel 
with  an  emphasising  nod  to  fix  his  sermon  on  the  boy's 
mind. 

The  opportunity  came  before  long.  It  was  customary  when 
an  apprentice  went  with  a  message  to  leave  him  in  the  hall,  or 
send  him  into  the  kitchen;  but  Jabez,  being  sent  by  Mrs,  Ashton 
with  several  samples  of  furniture-binding  and  fringes  for  her 
sister's  use,  he  was  shown  with  his  parcel  into  the  parlour,  where 
Mrs.  Chadwick,  neatly  attired  in  a  brown  stuff  dress,  with  a 
French  cambric  kerchief  lying  in  folds  under  the  square  bodice, 
sat  at  work  with  an  upholsteress,  in  the  midst  of  a  mass  of  chintz 
and  moreen,  preparing  for  the  new  home  of  Ellen's  elder  sister 


134  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Charlotte ;  for,  in  spite  of  war,  distress,  or  famine,  people  will 
marry  and  give  in  marriage.  And  had  not  a  glorious  peace 
just  been  concluded  ? 

Ellen,  a  comely  but  not  pretty  girl,  about  seventeen,  whose 
black  eyes  and  hair  were  her  chief  attractions,  sat  there  in  a 
purple  bombazine  dress,  with  her  sheathed  scissors  and  College 
pincushion  suspended  by  a  chain  from  her  girdle,  plying  her 
needle  most  industriously.  He  was  not  accustomed  to  parlours, 
and  no  doubt  his  bow  was  as  awkward  as  his  blush  ;  but  he 
had  a  message  to  deliver,  and  he  did  that  in  a  business-like 
manner.  He  had  to  wait  until  pattern  after  pattern  was  tried 
against  the  chintz,  and  calculations  made.  Mrs.  Chadwick,  seeing 
his  eyes  wander  wistfully  from  picture  to  picture,  courteously 
gave  him  permission  to  examine  them. 

At.  once  Ellen,  who  was  sitting  close  under  one,  rose  to  act 
as  interpreter.  She  was  recalled  by  the  mild  voice  of  her  mother. 
"  Sit  down,  Ellen.  Jabez  Clegg  does  not  require  a  young  lady's 
help  to  understand  those  pictures — they  explain  themselves." 

Ellen  went  back  to  her  seat  and  her  sewing  with  a  raised 
colour,  and  a  private  impression  that  the  rebuke  was  uncalled 
for,  though  she  spoke  never  a  word.  Perhaps  Mrs.  Chadwick 
thought  condescension  should  have  its  limits,  and  did  not  believe 
in  a  lady's  impulsive  civility  to  an  apprentice  Blue-coat  boy,  Yet 
that  was  not  like  Mrs.  Chadwick. 

Miss  Augusta  had  been  staying  with  her  aunt.  Part  of  his 
commission  was  to  convoy  her  home;  she  was  an  only  child,  and 
too  precious  to  be  trusted  out  alone,  though  she  was  in  her 
eleventh  year,  and  the  distance  was  nothing.  But  so  many 
desperadoes  had  been  let  loose  by  the  termination  of  the  war, 
that  crime  and  violence  was  rampant,  footpads  infested  highways 
and  byways,  and  Cicily,  Augusta's  maid — ex-nurse — was  no  longer 
deemed  a  protection. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  135 

He  stood  before  the  last  engraving  when  Augusta — in  no  awe 
of  her  father's  apprentice — came  dancing  into  the  room  in  a 
nankeen  dress  and  tippet,  a  hat  with  blue  ribbons,  long  washing- 
gloves  which  left  the  elbows  bare,  and  blue  shoes  tied  with  a 
bunch  of  ribbons. 

Bright,  beautiful,  buoyant — she  was  a  picture  in  herself;  and 
Jabez  turned  from  the  dingy  engraving  to  think  so.  She  often 
came  tripping  into  the  warehouse  or  the  kitchen,  and  exchanged 
a  bright  word  with  one  or  other,  and  away  again  ;  but  Jabez  had 
thought  of  her  only  as  a  pretty  playful  child  until  that  afternoon. 
Joshua  Brookes  pointing  Hogarth's  lessons  had  given  the  one 
spur;  that  lovely  brown-eyed,  brown-haired  maiden,  with  her 
simple,  "Come,  Jabez — I'm  ready,"  had  given  another. 

She  put  her  little  gloved  hand  in  his,  after  bidding  her  aunt 
and  cousin  good-bye,  and  went  dancing,  skipping,  and  chattering 
by  his  side  down  Oldham  Street,  and  let  him  lift  her  over  the 
muddy  crossing  to  Mosley  Street,  unconscious  of  the  chimerical 
dreams  floating  through  his  apprentice  brain  all  the  while.  His 
original  ambition  to  make  a  home  for  Simon  and  Bess,  where 
neither  penury  nor  care  should  trouble  them,  dwarfed  before  the 
new  ideas  crowding  upon  his  mind.  He  had  read  the  sermon 
on  the  wall,  but  the  old  "  Knave  of  Clubs,"  as  Joshua  was  called, 
little  thought  how  that  pretty,  piquant  little  fairy,  the  "  master's 
daughter,"  would  point  it  with  something  higher  than  ambition. 

There  were  at  that  period  in  Manchester  two  schools  for 
young  ladies,  which,  being  celebrated  at  the  time,  deserve  to  be 
mentioned.  The  one  was  situated  at  the  extreme  end  of  Bradshaw 
Street,  looking  through  its  vista  across  Shudehill  to  the  gaps  in 
brickwork  called  Thomas  Street  and  Nicholas  Croft,  where,  in 
highly  genteel  state  Mrs.  (or  Madame,  as  she  insisted  on  being 
called)  Broadbent  superintended  the  education  of  a  large  and  very 
select  circle. 


136  THE   MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Education  must  have  been  at  a  low  ebb  when  the  chief  manu- 
facturers of  the  town  consigned  their  daughters  to  this  pompous, 
pretentious  woman,  who  could  not  speak  correctly  the  language 
she  professed  to  teach.  In  her  attempt  to  appear  the  print 
and  pattern  of  a  lady,  she  "clipped  the  King's  English," 
and  made  almost  as  glaring  errors  as  Mrs.  Malaprop.  Yet, 
strange  to  say,  she  turned  out  first-class  pupils  (for  the  period). 
The  fact  is,  she  was  shrewd  enough  to  know  her  own  deficiencies, 
and  relegated  her  duties  to  others  who  were  in  all  respects 
efficient. 

Then  she  was  a  wonderful  trumpeter  of  her  own  fame  ;  made 
frequent  visitations  at  houses  where  she  was  well-entertained,  and 
her  bombast  was  listened  to  for  the  sake  of  her  young  charges; 
held  half-yearly  recitations,  and  also  exhibitions  of  the  plain  sewing, 
embroidery,  knitting,  knotting,  filigree,  tambour,  and  lace  work  of 
her  pupils  ;  and  matrons,  proud  of  their  own  daughters'  achieve- 
ments, seldom  paused  to  reckon  up  the  tears,  the  headaches,  the 
heartaches,  the  sore  fingers  which  those  minutely-stitched  shirts, 
those  fine  lace  aprons  and  ruffles,  those  pictures  and  samplers,  had 
cost.  For  Madame  Broadbent,  besides  being  a  martinet  rigid  in 
her  rule — having  a  numbered  rack  for  pattens  and  slippers,  numbered 
pegs  for  cloaks  and  hats,  book-bags  and  work-bags,  safe-guards 
(receptacles  for  sewing,  &c.,  like  a  huckster's  pocket)  and  slates, 
all  numbered  likewise — was  not  of  too  mild  a  temper,  and  had 
a  penchant  for  pinching  her  pupils'  ears  until  the  blood  tinged 
her  nails ;  while  stocks  for  the  feet,  backboards  for  the  shoulders, 
and  dry  bread  diet  were  her  prescriptions  for  the  cure  of  such 
delinquencies  as  an  unauthorised  word,  an  omitted  curtsey,  a  bag 
or  garment  on  the  wrong  hook,  a  dropped  stitch  in  knitting,  a 
blotted  copy,  a  puckered  seam  ;  and  work  had  to  be  done  and 
undone  until  stitches  were  almost  invisible,  and  little  eyes  almost 
blind.  She  had  other  peculiarities,  had  Madame  Broadbent — but 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  137 

my  portrait  is  growing  too  large  for  its  frame,  and  she  was  not 
a  large  personage  at  all. 

It  was  to  this  delectable  individual's  school  ("establishments" 
had  not  been  invented  then,  or  her's  would  have  been  one) 
that  Miss  Augusta  Ashton  was  consigned  for  conversion  into  a 
well-behaved,  well-informed,  useful,  and  accomplished  young 
lady. 

Her  cousins,  the  Misses  Chadwick,  had  in  their  turns  escaped 
from  this  penitentiary  for  the  manufacture  of  ladyhood.  But  in 
Piccadilly  was  a  school  of  a  very  different  description,  where 
young  ladies  of  talent  and  fortune  went  to  qualify  for  ivifehood ; 
and  here  at  this  time  Ellen  Chadwick  was  finishing  her  education, 
with  many  others,  in  learning  the  culinary  art  in  all  its  branches. 

How  came  it  that  Madame  Broadbent's  school  flourished  and 
survived  the  decay  of  its  neighbourhood,  being  in  existence  when 
the  writer  of  this  was  a  child,  and  the  other  had  died  and  been 
forgotten,  save  by  the  antiquary,  before  she  was  born  ? 

To  fetch  Miss  Ashton  home  from  Madame  Broadbent's  on 
dark  or  stormy  afternoons,  was  the  understood  duty  of  one  or 
other  of  the  apprentices  ;  but  Kit  Townley,  having  no  more 
liking  for  wet  weather  than  a  cat,  generally  contrived  to  be  out 
of  earshot  when  his  services  were  required.  It  devolved  on  Jabez, 
therefore,  to  carry  the  grey  duffel  hooded-cloak  with  which  to 
cover  the  dainty  one  of  scarlet  kerseymere,  to  tie  the  pattens  on 
the  tiny  feet,  to  carry  the  school-bag,  and  hold  the  brilliant  blue 
gingham  umbrella  over  the  head  elevated  by  the  pattens  so  much 
nearer  to  his  shoulder,  and  to  be  thanked  by  one  of  the  sweetest 
voices  in  the  world. 

It  was  dangerous  work,  though  no  one  knew  it,  least  of  all 
Jabez.  True,  she  was  only  a  child,  but  she  was  tall  for  her 
age,  And  was  he  much  more  than  a  boy  ?  A  boy  let  out  from 
the  seclusion  of  an  almost  monastic  institution,  to  whom  her  little 


138  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

airs  and    graces,   her    pretty   vanities,  her    very  waywardness    and 
caprice,   only   made  her  beauty   more   piquant. 

Madame  Broadbent's  infallibility  being  taken  for  granted,  all 
attempts  to  make  known  school  troubles  and  grievances  were  met 
with  "  Never  tell  tales  out  of  school,"  from  Mrs.  Ashton,  but  they 
were  poured  fresh  and  warm  into  the  ear  of  Jabez,  as  she  trotted 
by  his  side ;  and  he,  his  school-days  unforgotten,  listened  with 
ready  sympathy.  And  this  went  on  as  months  and  years  went 
by,  adding  to  her  stature,  narrowing  the  space  between  them  ; 
and  he  still  did  duty  as  her  humble  escort,  unless  when  Kit 
Townley  was  especially  told  off  for  the  service,  and  went 
reluctantly,  grumbling  at  being  made  "  lackey  to  a  school  miss." 

Yet  Kit  Townley  did  not  think  it  any  degradation  to  play 
practical  jokes  on  Jabez,  or  on  Kezia,  leaving  the  younger  appren- 
tice to  bear  the  blame.  Billets  of  wood,  scuttles  of  coal, 
pails  of  water  brought  in  for  her  use  by  Jabez,  were  dexterously 
removed  to  doorways  and  other  unsuspected  places,  where  "  cook  " 
was  sure  to  stumble  over  them,  and  then  cuff  Jabez  for  his 
carelessness  or  wilfulness,  all  protestations  on  his  part  being 
disregarded.  Creeping  behind  the  settle  where  Jabez  sat  watching, 
and  perhaps  basting  the  roast  for  the  master's  table  for  late 
dinners  on  company  days,  he  would  steal  his  sly  arm  round  the 
corner,  himself  unseen,  and  lifting  the  wheel  of  the  spit  out  of 
the  smoke-jack  chain,  bring  spit  and  all  thereon  into  the 
dripper,  with  a  splash  which  brought  the  irate  Kezia  down  on 
astounded  Jabez  with  whatsoever  weapon  of  offence  came  nearest 
to  her  hand,  from  the  paste-pin  to  the  basting-ladle,  or  even  a 
saucepan  lid — it  was  all  one  to  Kezia. 

From  Kezia,  however,  these  frequent  chances  and  mischances 
went  to  Kezia's  mistress ;  and,  appearances  being  against  him, 
the  very  steadiness  of  denial,  unaccompanied  with  any  accusation 
of  another  (other  waggeries  of  Kit  Townley  in  the  warehouse 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  139 

being  also  laid  on  his  shoulder),  Mrs.  Ashton's  faith  in  the  youth 
was  somewhat  shaken,  and  he  was  conscious  of  being  under  a 
cloud.  But  he  still  kept  on  his  way,  and  looked  to  the 
end 

The  cloud  dispersed  after  a  while.  Kit  Townley  was  something 
of  a  glutton,  with  a  very  boy's  love  of  pastry  and  sweets.  It 
so  happened  that  on  a  special  occasion  (rejoicing  for  peace  or 
something)  Kezia  had  set  aside  in  her  roomy  pantry,  the  door 
of  which  fastened  only  with  a  button,  a  tray  of  tartlets,  custards, 
a  trifle,  moulds  of  jelly  and  blanc-mange,  and  other  dainties  for 
a  large  party.  Kit's  mouth  watered  to  get  at  these  things. 
Often  and  often  had  he  stolen  the  fruit  from  under  a  pie-crust, 
and  sat  silent  while  Jabez  bore  the  blame,  but  now  he  meditated 
a  more  sweeping  raid.  There  was  a  fine  young  retriever  in  the 
yard.  Watching  Kezia  out  of  the  way,  he  crammed  mouth  and 
pockets  with  the  pastry,  and  made  an  inroad  into  the  trifle.  Then 
he  whistled  to  Nelson,  raised  the  dog  on  his  hind  feet,  and  printed 
the  forepaws  on  the  pantry-shelf,  dishes,  and  tart-tray,  and  round 
the  button  of  the  door. 

But  he  was  compelled  to  wait  until  bedtime  to  fairly  enjoy 
his  spoil,  and  then  could  not  manage  it  unknown  to  his 
companion.  Hoping  to  close  the  other's  mouth  literally  and 
figuratively,  he  offered  him  a  share,  but  Jabez  told  him  he  was 
not  a  receiver  of  stolen  goods,  and  left  him  to  digest  that  with 
his  feast.  It  was  a  harder  morsel  than  even  Jabez  knew. 

The  next  morning  before  breakfast  they  were  in  the  warehouse, 
when  there  was  heard  a  terrible  commotion  in  the  yard.  From 
the  back  windows  Kezia  was  seen  belabouring  Nelson  with  a 
broomstick,  her  face  redder  than  ordinary,  whilst  the  poor  beast 
whined  piteously. 

Jabez  ran  down  to  interpose,  and  the  infuriated  woman  turned 
on  him,  then  ran  in  her  rage  to  fetch  her  mistress  to  witness 


140  THE   MANCHESTER    MAN. 

the  damage  done,  and  the  footprints  of  the  depredator,  and  to 
own  that  punishment  was  just. 

But  as  Mrs.  Ashton  ascended  the  warehouse  stairs  that 
afternoon,  she  heard  Jabez  and  Kit  loud  in  altercation,  and 
before  they  were  aware  she  possessed  a  clue  to  much  that  had 
gone  before. 

Something  Jabez  had  said  was  answered  by  a  loud  guffaw 
from  Kit,  and  the  words — 

"  Let  them  laugh  that  win.  I  call  it  a  deuced  good 
joke." 

"And  I  call  it  cowardly  and  dishonourable  to  let  the  poor 
beast  suffer  for  your  greediness,"  Jabez  answered,  indignantly. 

"Now  don't  you  put  in  your  oar,  young  yellow-skirt.  I'll 
let  no  charity-boy  hector  over  me,"  blustered  Kit. 

Jabez  put  down  a  bundle  of  umbrella  whalebones  he  had  on 
his  shoulder,  to  confront  the  other,  then  counting  ferules  into 
dozens.  Umbrellas  used  to  have  brass  ferules,  like  elongated 
thimbles,  on  the  sticks. 

"  Look  you,  Kit,  I've  borne  many  a  scurvy  trick  of  yours 
without  saying  a  word,  but  I  will  not  even  give  the  sanction 
of  silence  to  dishonesty,  and  will  not  see  a  noble  animal  ill-used 
to  screen  a  coward." 

"  Won't  you  ? "  sneered  Kit,  "  then  we'll  see  whose  word 
weighs  heaviest" 

Mrs.   Ashton   came   into  the    room. 

"Townley,"  said  she,  "your  word  will  not  weigh  down  a 
feather  henceforth,"  adding  in  the  same  dignified  tone,  "  Are 
those  ferules  counted  1  Jackson  is  waiting  for  them." 

No  further  notice  was  taken,  but  Jabez  soon  found  he  stood 
on  a  firmer  footing  in  house  and  warehouse.  Mrs.  Ashton 
remarked  to  her  husband,  as  she  finished  dressing  for  their 
dinner  party — • 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  141 

"It  was  a  slight  circumstance,  William,  but  straws  show 
\yhich  way  the  wind  blows." 

And  he  tapped  his  silver  snuff-box,  and  said,  "  Just  so ; " 
then  courteously  offering  his  hand  to  his  fine-looking  wife,  led 
her  from  the  room,  her  purple  velvet  robe  trailing  after  her, 
the  plumes  on  her  head  nodding  as  they  went. 


CHAPTER    THE    SIXTEENTH. 


IN   WAR   AND   PEACE. 

CLAP  of  thunder  burst  over 
Europe,  and  the  great  war- 
eagle  flapped  his  monstrous 
wings  again.  Napoleon  had 
escaped  from  Elba  ere  crops 
had  had  time  to  grow  on  his 
trampled  battle-fields ;  yet  crops 
of  men  rose  ripe  for  the  sickle, 
and  home  expectations  were 
dashed  to  the  ground. 

How  many  an  anxious 
parent,  how  many  a  longing, 
love-sick  maiden,  looked  for 
her  warrior  back  from  Canada 
or  the  Continent,  if  only  on 
furlough  or  sick-leave !  How  many  a  weary  soldier,  sated  with 
blood,  looked  for  discharge  with  pension  or  reward,  and  thirsted 
for  the  fountain  of  home  joys ! 

And  from  how  many  lips  was  the  cup  of  delight  dashed  when 
the  cry  "To  arms!"  rang  out  from  mount  to  vale,  from  peak  to 
peak,  from  town  to  town,  and  the  sheathed  sword  flashed  forth 
to  light,  and  forges  belched  forth  flame  through  day  and  night, 
preparing  for  fresh  holocausts  in  the  new  carnival  of  blood  ! 


SHAW'S  SHOP,  MARKET  STREET. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN  143 

Trade  centres  at  all  such  times  are  most  convulsed,  as  being 
also  centres  of  humanity — depots  whence  fresh  relays  are  drafted 
from  the  ranks  of  men  whose  peaceful  work  is  at  a  sudden 
standstill.  But  that  war-blast  came  like  a  fiery  flash,  and 
commerce,  only  then  a  feeble  convalescent,  sank  crushed  and 
hopeless. 

Mr.  Chadwick  felt  it  keenly,  and,  but  that  his  more  cautious 
and  wealthy  brother-in-law  came  to  his  help  with  hand  as  open 
as  his  snuff-box,  his  credit  must  have  gone.  His  two  eldest  sons 
had  gone  from  him,  drawn  away  by  the  phantom,  "Glory."  One, 
Richard,  was  a  midshipman  upon  Collingwood's  ship;  the  other, 
Herbert,  a  lieutenant  in  the  /and,  or  Manchester  Volunteers,  had 
departed  with  his  regiment  to  fight  in  the  Peninsula.  A  third 
son,  John,  had  been  left  to  do  his  quiet  duty  in  the  counting- 
house,  but  Death  had  laid  its  clutches  upon  him  soon  after  his 
sister  Charlotte's  marriage,  and  Ellen  alone  kept  the  house  from 
utter  desolation. 

She  was  a  girl  of  strong  feelings  and  quick  impulses,  but 
pursued  her  way  with  so  little  show  or  pretence,  she  was  hardly 
accredited  with  all  the  comfort  she  brought  to  the  hearth;  and 
scarcely  her  mother  even  suspected  how  that  hidden  heart  of 
hers  could  throb — how  intense  were  her  emotions. 

Her  love  for  every  member  of  the  family  was  deep,  but  when 
her  brother  John  died,  after  the  first  terrible  outburst  of  grief 
she  dried  her  tears,  and  by  mere  force  of  will  set  herself  to 
soothe  those  who  had  lost  a  son.  The  prolonged  absence  of  the 
others  had  been  fruitful  of  pain,  and  the  blighted  prospect  of 
Herbert'  return  came  to  her,  as  to  father  and  mother,  with  a 
shock  like  a  stab. 

There  was  another  hearth  we  have  ere-while  visited— a  hearth 
which,  thanks  to  Jabez  and  a  few  months'  regular  employment 
for  the  batting-rods  and  the  tanner's  plunger,  was  less  poverty- 


144  THE   MANCHESTER    MAN. 

stricken  than  it  had  been — and  where  Hope  had  held  out 
delusive  banners  to  herald  a  soldier's  return,  only  to  furl  them 
again  for  another  march,  before  eye  could  meet  eye,  or  lip 
meet  lip. 

Thirteen  years  had  come  and  gone  since  last  Tom  Hulme 
and  Bessy  Clegg  had  looked  woefully  upon  each  other — thirteen 
years  of  unrecorded  trial  and  suffering — yet  still  they  were  apart. 
The  home  in  which  he  had  known  her  first,  Tanner's  Bridge,  on 
which  he  had  first  made  love  to  her,  had  been  swept  away  to 
make  room  for  Ducie  Bridge  and  a  new  high-road  ;  and  the 
best  years  of  her  womanhood  were  passing  too.  Would  he  ever 
come  back  whilst  grey-haired  Simon  could  bless  their  union? 
Would  he  ever  come  back  again?  Tears  fell  on  Bess's  batting; 
and  Simon  had  not  one  word  of  comfort  to  give  her.  Even 
Matt  Cooper,  who  had  long  since  resigned  himself  to  his 
widowhood,  was  magnanimous  enough  to  be  sorry. 

The  new  war  between  the  "Corsican  Vampire"  and  allied 
Europe  was  fortunately  of  short  duration ;  but  how  much  of 
carnage  and  misery  was  compressed  into  that  campaign  which 
had  its  brilliant  close  at  Waterloo! 

In  the  onset  of  that  terrible  conflict,  Herbert  Chadwick  and 
a  cousin,  fighting  side  by  side,  fell  in  a  storm  of  grape-shot  like 
green  corn  under  an  untimely  shower  of  hail,  and  their  blood 
went  to  fertilise  the  Belgian  farmer's  future  crops  of  wheat. 

Herbert  was  his  father's  favourite  son.  Not  a  mail-morning 
passed  but  the  old  man  made  one  of  the  crowd  hurrying  down 
the  narrow  way  called  Market-street  Lane  to  the  Exchange,  to 
catch  a  sight  of  whatever  bulletins  might  be  posted  up;  and, 
his  own  mind  relieved,  sent  an  apprentice  from  the  Fountain 
Street  warehouse  with  the  words,  "All's  well!"  to  cheer  up 
those  at  home.  That  dreadful  morning  when  his  fearful  eye  ran 
down  the  black  list  of  the  killed  at  Waterloo,  and  rested  on 


rs=<"^slsC»^     "      r~iSF •  ;'i  -~^-~'>~-  >      ' 

- 


MARKET    STREET    LANE. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  145 

Lieutenant    Chadwick's   name,   the   letters    seemed   to    turn   blood- 
red  ;     he    shrivelled    up    like    a    maple-leaf  in   a   blighting    wind 
his  face    and    limbs    began   to    twitch,   and    he    fell    forward    into 
the   arms   of  a  bystander,   in   a  fit. 

He  was  carried  by  compassionate  hands  to  the  nearest  house, 
that  of  John  Shaw,  the  saddler.  A  merchant  on  'Change  (Mr. 
Aspinall)  undertook  to  break  the  doubly-calamitous  intelligence  to 
Mrs.  Chadwick.  Dr.  Hardie,  whom  the  general  excitement  had 
drawn  to  the  spot,  was  with  him  in  an  instant,  his  white 
neckcloth  was  loosened,  and,  whipping  out  a  lancet,  the  doctor 
bled  him  in  the  arm  without  delay.  He  rallied  sufficiently  to 
bear  lifting  into  a  carriage,  kindly  placed  at  the  doctor's  disposal 
to  convey  him  home. 

Dr.  Hull  was  already  in  waiting.  All  that  their  united  skill 
could  suggest  was  tried.  His  recovery  was  slow  and  imperfect ; 
he  dragged  his  right  leg  after  him  ;  he  was  paralysed  for  life. 
He  was  not  a  young  man,  and  the  supreme  shock,  coming  as 
it  did  above  a  pressure  of  commercial  difficulties,  had  been  too 
much  for  him. 

It  was  an  overwhelming  disaster ;  but  in  anxiety  and  active 
care  for  the  stricken  one,  whose  life  was  in  imminent  peril,  the 
sharp  edge  of  the  keener  stroke  was  blunted  for  Ellen  and  her 
mother. 

The  Ashtons  were,  as  ever,  kind  and  thoughtful. 
"  William,"  said  Mrs.  Ashton,  meditatively,  to  her  husband  over 
the  tea-urn,  the  day  after  Mr.  Chadwick's  attack,  "we  must  not 
forget  that  if  John  is  not  related  to  us,  Sarah  [Mrs.  Chadwick] 
and  Ellen  are.  'Blood  is  thicker  than  water,'  and  it  will  not 
do,  for  their  sakes,  to  let  John's  business  go  to  rack  and  ruin 
for  want  of  supervision." 

"Just  so,  just  so,"  he  replied,  reflectively,  taking  his  snuff-box 
out  of  his  pocket  mechanically,  and  putting  it  back  again 


146 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


unopened,  as  contrary  to  tea-table  propriety ;  "  I  have  been 
thinking  the  same  myself.  I  will  go  round  to  the  warehouse 
to-morrow,  and  see  how  matters  stand ;  we  must  keep  things 
ship-shape  somehow  till  John  is  himself  again." 

And  he  was  as  good  as  his  word,  though  he  had  really  never 
thought  about  it  until  prompted  by  his  clear-headed  wife.  He 
had  a  habit  of  thus  falling  in  with  her  suggestions,  though  had 
anyone  hinted  that  he  followed  the  lead  of  a  woman,  so  much 
younger  than  himself,  too,  he  would  have  rejected  the  imputation 
with  scorn. 

With  returning  peace  came  joyful  restorations  to  many  homes, 
humble  as  well  as  lofty. 

Before  the  time  of  their  extreme  privation,  before  even  Simon 
was  out  of  work,  he  had  taken  one  of  the  smallest  of  the 
garden  plots  on  the  higher  ground  on  the  opposite  side  of  the 
Irk,  and  cultivated  it  in  what  little  leisure  he  had,  Bess  giving 
him  a  helping  hand  occasionally,  and  by  the  sale  of  penny 
posies  to  Sunday  ramblers  from  the  town,  and  herbs  and  salad 
to  the  market  women  in  Smithy-door,  he  did  his  best  to  beat 
back  the  gaunt  wolf  when  the  wolf  came. 

Bess  had  laid  by  her  batting-wands,  put  a  turf  in  the  grate 
to  kindle  up  a  handful  of  cinders  and  slack  to  boil  their 
supper-porridge,  for,  though  autumn  was  striding  on,  they  could 
not  waste  fuel  on  a  mid-day  fire  ;  Simon  was  away  working  in 
his  garden  whilst  the  daylight  held,  and  she  sat,  as  she 
frequently  did  now,  on  a  low  stool  in  front  of  the  grate,  her 
elbows  on  her  knees,  and  her  head  on  her  hands,  watching,  in 
a  kind  of  hazy  dream,  the  red  glow  creeping  through  the  heart 
of  the  turf,  when  a  footstep  on  the  threshold  caused  her  to 
turn  round. 

Like  a  picture    framed   by  the  doorway,   stood  the    tall  figure 
of  a   bronzed   soldier,   with    his   left  arm   in   a  sling.       Before   the 


Vk\ 


<=.  -     v  -*• 

-  Jr.    ^ 

'  v— =3*1 

A-rft 


t  f/«h 


ENTRY    TO   CLEGG  S    YARD,    MILLGATE. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  147 

sharp  cry  of  joy  had  well  parted  her  lips,  his  other  arm  was 
around  her — both  hers  around  his  neck ;  their  lips  met  in  a 
long  kiss,  which  told  of  pain  and  trouble  past,  and  love  through 
all ;  and  then  her  head  fell  on  his  shoulder  in  a  fit  of 
convulsive  sobbing  such  as  had  not  shaken  her  frame  for  years. 

Sorrow  and  joy  have   alike  their  baptism   of  tears  ! 

It  was  a  glad  sight  for  Simon  to  see  them  sitting  with 
their  hands  locked  in  each  other's,  side  by  side  on  an  old  box, 
which  served  them  for  a  seat — all  Simon's  lost  furniture  had 
not  come  back — silent  from  excess  of  happiness,  yet  radiant  as 
though  the  glow  of  youth  were  returning  in  the  Midsummer  of 
their  lives. 

In  the  roughest  war-time  the  common  requirements  of  life 
have  to  be  satisfied,  and  peaceful  trades  and  arts  are  of 
necessity  carried  on,  albeit  they  flourish  not.  And  the  farther 
from  the  seat  of  war,  and  the  less  private  interest  is  involved, 
the  less  business  and  household  routine  is  infringed  on. 

Thus  Mr.  Ashton,  whose  large  capital  had  enabled  him  to 
bide  the  issues  of  the  Continental  and  American  stoppage  of 
trade,  and  who  had  no  nearer  relatives  in  danger  than  his  wife's 
nephews,  pursued  his  way  in  comparative  quiet.  Indeed,  he  was 
an  easy-going  man,  with  much  less  vigour  of  character  than  his 
wife ;  and  she  bore  little  resemblance  to  her  own  sister. 

So  we  may  carry  our  readers  away  from  the  poorly-furnished 
room  in  a  dreary  Long-Millgate  yard,  leaving  the  re-united  lovers 
to  the  enjoyment  of  the  present  and  their  reminiscences  of  the 
past,  and  look  in  upon  the  Ashtons  in  their  cosy  tea-room 
before  Waterloo  cast  a  black  shadow  over  the  family. 

It  was  a  spacious  apartment  (as  were  most  of  the  rooms  in 
that  habitation),  the  walls  above  the  surbase  (a  wooden  moulding 
some  two  feet  above  the  skirting-board)  were  painted  a  warm 
dove  colour,  the  surbase  and  all  below  in  two  shades  of  light 


148  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

blue.  The  window-tax — a  result  of  war — laid  an  embargo  on 
light,  by  restricting  size  and  number,  so  the  house,  like  most  in 
the  neighbourhood,  having  been  built  subsequently  to  "Billy 
Pitt's"  obnoxious  impost,  there  were  only  two  windows,  and  those 
were  narrow.  They  were  draped  with  heavy  curtains,  and 
festooned  valances  of  dove-coloured  moreen,  trimmed  with  blue 
orris-lace,  and  worsted-bullion  fringe,  with  spiral  silken  droplets 
here  and  there  to  shimmer  in  the  rays  of  sun  or  chandelier. 
For  there  was  a  chandelier,  of  fanciful  device,  pendent  from  the 
wonderfully  moulded  ceiling,  a  septenary  of  lacquered  serpents, 
whose  interlaced  and  twisted  tails  met  upwards,  separated  below 
in  graceful  coils,  and  branching  out  their  seven  heads,  turned  up 
their  gaping  jaws  to  close  them  on  wax-lights.  The  chandelier 
was  no  misnomer ;  but  the  fiery  serpents  kept  their  flames  for 
state  occasions,  when  the  serpent  branches  on  each  side  the  long 
Venetian  looking-glass,  between  the  windows,  were  on  duty 
likewise.  There  was  another  Venetian  glass  above  the  high, 
painted  chimney-piece,  so  elaborately  carved,  but  here  the  serpent 
candelabra  lit  the  room  for  common  use,  and  were  supplemented 
with  lights  in  tall  silver  candlesticks  upon  the  centre  table. 

Spanish  mahogany  alike  were  chairs  and  tables,  and  Miss 
Augusta's  grand  piano — ranged  against  the  wall  from  the  door, 
so  that  the  window  light  should  fall  upon  the  keys — and  chairs 
and  tables  were  alike  club-footed,  massive,  and  plain ;  there  were  two 
folded  card  tables,  a  cellaret,  and  a  work-table,  all  with  tapering 
legs  and  club-feet ;  and  there  was  a  ponderous  sofa  on  the 
flower-besprent  Brussels  carpet,  which,  without  the  adventitious 
aid  of  artificial  steel  springs,  was  elastic  and  soft,  and  wooed  the 
weary  to  rest  aching  limbs  or  aching  head  upon  its  cushions. 
There  were  no  antimacassars — hair-seating  did  not  soil  readily. 

The  air  was  odorous  with  rose,  lavender,  and  jessamine,  for 
the  windows  were  both  open,  and  what  little  air  there  was 


"  WHAT    WOULD    MRS.    BROADBENT    SAY  ? 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  149 

stirring  swept  over  a  large  summer  nosegay  in  a  china  vase 
between  the  windows.  The  mahogany  teaboard  was  set  with 
miniature  unhandled  cups  and  saucers  of  china,  more  precious 
than  the  fragrant  decoction  they  were  designed  to  hold ;  the 
brass  tea-urn  hissed  and  spluttered ;  Mrs.  Ashton,  in  a  rich  dress, 
sat  at  the  table  to  infuse  the  tea;  Mr.  Ashton  had  drawn  his 
softly-cushioned  easy-chair  nearer ;  it  was  past  five  by  the  tall 
clock  in  the  hall,  and  Miss  Augusta  had  not  presented  her- 
self. 

As  a  thorough  business  woman,  Mrs.  Ashton  was  punctuality 
itself.  She  expected  her  family  to  be  punctual  also.  Five 
o'clock,  the  Manchester  hour  for  tea,  and  no  Augusta! 

"  James ! "  (to  the  footman),  "  inquire  for  Miss  Ashton  ;  she  is 
not  kept  in  at  school — it  is  a  holiday." 

As  the  man  retired,  Augusta,  in  a  white  cambric  frock  heavy 
with  tambour-work,  tripped  in  at  the  door,  her  diaper  pinafore 
not  so  clean  as  it  might  have  been,  her  hands  full  of  something 
which  she  set  down  on  a  side  table. 

"  It  is  past  five  o'clock,  Augusta ;  where  have  you  been 
until  now  ?  And  how  came  Cicily  to  send  you  in  to  tea  with 
a  soiled  pinafore?"  asked  Mrs.  Ashton,  with  the  quiet  dignity 
which  seldom  relaxed. 

"Is  it?  I  did  not  hear  the  clock  strike,  I  was  so  busy; 
and  Cicily  has  not  seen  my  pinafore,"  was  Augusta's  light, 
consecutive  reply. 

"So  busy!— Cicily  not  seen  you!"  her  mother  exclaimed  in 
surprise.  "Let  me  look  at  your  hands.  I  am  shocked,  Augusta! 
What  would  Mrs.  Broadbent  say?"  (The  hands  were  worse 
than  the  pinafore.)  "Have  I  not  told  you  repeatedly  that 
'cleanliness  is  next  to  godliness?'  Go  to  Cicily  and  be  washed 
immediately,  or  you  can  have  no  tea." 

Augusta   pouted. 


--    '.^,, 


150 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


"Must   I,  papa  ?" 

The  management  of  this  child  was  the  only  point  on  which 
Mr.  and  Mrs.  Ashton  differed. 

"  Well,  my  dear,  your  mamma  says  so  ;  but  I  think  for  this 
once  it  may  be  overlooked,  if  you  will  be  more  careful  another 
time,"  said  he,  willing  to  excuse  and  temporise. 

"'Only  this  once/  William,  'is  the  parent  of  thrice,'"  responded 
Mrs.  Ashton,  gravely,  as  she  poured  out  the  tea,  giving  some- 
thing like  milk-and-water  to  Miss  Augusta.  "You  will  spoil  that 
child  ;  and  if  you  spoil  her  to-day,  she  will  spoil  herself  to-morrow. 
However,  as  you  are  inclined  to  tolerate  that  which  I  think 
disrespectful  to  us,  and  wanting  in  self-respect  on  the  child's 
part,  I  can  say  no  more." 

Thus  Mrs.  Ashton  yielded  against  her  judgment ;  Mr.  Ashton 
took  out  his  snuff-box,  to  put  it  back  like  a  culprit ;  and  Miss 
Augusta  sat  down  to  the  table,  not  knowing  whether  to  be  more 
pleased  or  sorry  that  she  had  got  her  own  way. 

To  turn  the  subject,   Mr.   Ashton   asked — 

"  What   is   that  you   put   on   the   card-table,   my   dear  ? " 

"  Oh !  I'll  show  you,"  and  away  the  young  lady  was  running, 
only  to  be  recalled  by  her  mother's  decided — 

"  After  tea,   Augusta." 

So  after  tea  it  was  that  Miss  Augusta  brought  her  treasure 
to  her  father — sundry  sheets  of  paper,  on  which  scraps  of  variously- 
coloured  leather  had  been  arranged  and  pasted  in  ornamental 
patterns,  floral  and  geometrical,  aided  by  the  stamps  employed 
in  piercing  brace-ends  for  the  embroiderers,  and  in  cutting  stars 
to  cover  the  umbrella-wheels  inside. 

"  Who  did   those  ? "  asked    mother  and    father  in   a   breath. 

"  Jabez  Clegg,  in  the  warehouse.  Aren't  they  pretty  ? "  was 
Augusta's  ready  reply,  as  she  looked  admiringly  on  her  curious 
pictures. 


THE   MANCHESTER    MAN.  151 

"  Oh !  then  that  accounts  for  your  being  late,  and  in  that 
condition  at  the  tea-table,"  said  Mrs.  Ashton,  as  she  glanced  from 
the  rich  designs  before  her  to  the  sullied  hands  and  pinafore. 

"And  so  Jabez  Clegg  has  been  wasting  our  leather  to  make 
playthings  for  you  ? "  remarked  Mr.  Ashton  interrogatively,  in  a 
not  unkindly  tone  of  voice. 

<f  No,  he  hasn't ! "  answered  little  miss,  briskly.  "  He  only 
used  the  waste  tiny  bits.  I  wanted  to  take  a  big  piece  to  make 
a  housewife"  (a  case  for  thread  and  needles),  "and  he  would  not 
let  me  have  it.  He  said  he  had  no  right  to  give  it,  and  I  had 
no  right  to  take  it.  Was  he  right,  mamma  ? " 

[Along  with  many  other  vain  fashions,  "  papa "  and  "  mamma " 
had  come  over  from  France  to  supersede  our  more  sterling  "father" 
and  "mother,"  as  refugees  from  the  Revolution.] 

"  Yes,  my  dear,  quite  right ;  but  I  wish  my  little  daughter 
would  not  run  so  much  into  the  kitchen  and  warehouse  among 
the  apprentices,"  said  the  mother,  kindly,  smoothing  down  the 
light  brown  hair,  in  which  the  sunbeams  seemed  to  weave  golden 
threads.  "  It  is  not  becoming  in  a  young  lady." 

Mr.  Ashton,  who  had  been  all  the  while  examining  the  glowing 
devices  before  him,  interrupted  her  with — 

"  I  think  I  have  discovered  a  new  faculty  in  our  apprentice. 
I  shall  buy  Jabez  Clegg  a  box  of  colours  to-morrow.  We  are 
sadly  in  want  of  fresh  patterns,  and  I  think  he  can  make  them." 
Mr.  Ashton  took  a  large  pinch  of  snuff  on  the  strength  of  his 
discovery. 

And  Jabez,  for  the  first  time  in  his  life  the  possessor  of 
paints  and  brushes,  became  valuable  to  his  master. 


CHAPTER    THE     SEVENTEENTH. 


IN     THE     WAREHOUSE. 

UTABILITY  is  the  epitaph 
of  worlds.  Change  alone  is 
changeless.  People  drop  out 
of  the  history  of  a  life  as 
of  a  land,  though  their  work 
or  their  influence  remains. 
A  passing  word  may  suffice 
to  dismiss  such  from  our 
pages. 

The  Reverend  John  Gress- 
well  had  been  taken  by 
Death  from  the  Chetham 
College  schoolroom  before 
more  than  half  the  term 
of  Jabez  Clegg's  pupilage  had  run.  Dr.  Stone's  resignation  of 
his  librarianship  followed  closely  on  his  discovery  of  the  half- 
drowned  boy  on  the  dairy  steps.  After  a  long  engagement  with 
a  young  lady  who  refused  many  eligible  offers,  and  withstood 
much  parental  persuasion  for  his  sake,  he — the  curate  of  St. 
John's  Church — accepted  the  first  vacant  living  in  the  gift  of 
the  College  whereof  he  was  Fellow.  A  bridal  closed  their  almost 
Jacob's  courtship,  and  the  constant  couple  retired  to  the  seclusion 
of  Wooton  Rivers,  where  his  learning  and  eloquence  had  seldom 


JABEZ    TEACHING    TOM  HULME, 


GRAMMAR    SCHOOL    AND    COLLEGE    GATE. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  153 

more   appreciative    auditory    than    smock-frocked    Wiltshire   rustics 
and   their  families. 

About  the  same  time,  or  not  long  after,  old  Brookes  was 
missed  from  the  Packhorse,  and  the  Ring-o'-Bells,  and  the 
Apple  Tree,  and  the  Sun  Inn — the  breeches-maker  and  his 
neighbours  ceased  to  hear  his  foul  and  offensive  maunderings 
and  imprecations  as  he  staggered  past  to  his  son's  home,  there 
to  test  his  endurance.  He  had  gone  home  to  his  mother-earth, 
sober  and  silent  for  evermore.  And  Parson  Brookes,  left  to  his 
books  and  his  pigeons,  sent  in  his  resignation,  and  the  Grammar 
School  knew  him  no  more  as  a  master.  So  the  boys  felt 
themselves  free  to  take  greater  liberties  with  him  than  ever 
and  kept  his  hot  blood  for  ever  on  the  simmer. 

As  all  these  changes  preceded  the  change  which  converted 
Jabez  from  a  Blue-coat  boy  into  Mr.  Ashton's  apprentice,  so 
were  they  anterior  to  the  changes  wrought  by  war  in  the  homes 
of  the  Chadwicks  and  the  Cleggs — changes  differing  even  more 
widely  than  did  the  two  homes. 

Poverty  had  made  sad  havoc  amongst  Simon  Clegg's  household 
goods ;  but  Tom  Hulme  had  not  come  home  empty-handed, 
and  soon  their  furniture  came  back,  or  was  replaced,  and  the 
three  rooms  brightened  up  wonderfully.  Though  Simon's  flowers 
brought  pence  to  his  pocket  as  well  as  the  other  produce  of 
his  garden,  he  had  always  a  spare  posy  for  the  broken  jug  on 
window-sill  or  mantel-shelf;  and  Bess,  full-hearted,  if  not  full  of 
work,  sent  her  voice  quivering  through  that  unmusical  yard  in 
songs  of  gladness  and  rejoicing. 

Very  little  fresh  wooing  was  necessary.  To  people  who  had 
been  so  stinted  as  they  had  been,  in  common  with  others,  Tom's 
pension  seemed  more  than  it  was  ;  and  no  sooner  was  he  able  to 
discard  his  sling  than  he  talked  of  immediate  marriage,  and  was 
wonderfully  sanguine  about  obtaining  work  as  soon  as  his  left  arm 


154  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

regained  its  old  power — which  it  never  did.  It  was  no  use  setting 
up  a  loom ;  he  could  no  longer  throw  the  shuttle  back.  He 
would  have  to  seek  some  other  employment.  But  thousands  of 
other  men  were  seeking  employment  too — men  with  the  full  use 
of  all  their  limbs — men  who  had  not  disqualified  themselves  for 
peaceful  arts  by  "going  soldiering,"  and  Tom  Hulme  stood  little 
chance.  Mr.  Clough  would  have  taken  him  on  as  a  timekeeper, 
but  lack  of  penmanship  was  a  barrier  in  the  way. 

Lamenting  this  in  the  presence  of  Jabez,  the  youth  offered  to 
be  his  instructor ;  and  with  the  permission  of  Mr.  Ashton,  who 
granted  leave  of  absence,  set  him  copies  and  gave  him  lessons 
on  Sunday  afternoons,  at  first  on  an  old  slate,  to  save  the  cost 
of  paper,  which  was  dear.  And  then,  at  Mr.  Ashton's  suggestion, 
Jabez  superadded  arithmetic,  thus  keeping  himself  in  practice, 
besides  helping  one  dear  to  those  who  had  helped  him. 

Of  course,  a  weekly  or  fortnightly  lesson  was  not  much  ;  but 
the  disabled  soldier  was  a  persevering  pupil,  and  brought  a  clear 
head  and  an  eager  desire  to  his  task.  The  maintenance  of  a 
better  home  for  Bess  depended  on  it. 

About  this  time  a  matter  occurred  at  the  Ashtons'  which 
had  a  material  influence  on  the  fortunes  of  the  Cleggs.  Though 
the  house  of  Mr.  Ashton  was  in  Mosley  Street,  the  premises 
extended  as  far  as  Back  Mosley  Street,  where  was  the  warehouse 
door.  The  workpeople  entered  at  a  side  door  under  a  gateway 
which  led  to  the  stable,  gighouse,  and  courtyard  between  house 
and  warehouse,  guarded  by  the  black  retriever,  Nelson. 

You  may  look  in  vain  for  house  and  warehouse  now.  A 
magnificent  block  of  stone  warehouses,  having  threefold  frontage, 
occupies  the  site. 

More  than  once  Jabez  Clegg,  frequently  entrusted  with  outdoor 
business  requiring  promptitude  and  accuracy,  came  upon  Kit 
Townley,  and  one  or  other  of  the  tassel-makers  or  fringe  weavers, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN, 


155 


in  close  conference  under  the  dim  gateway  at  closing-time  on 
Saturdays,  or  in  the  still  darker  doorway  at  the  stairfoot  of  the 
workmen's  entrance.  The  first  time  they  moved  aside  to  let  him 
pass,  afterwards  they  separated  hastily ;  but  not  before  Jabez, 
who  had  quick  ears,  caught  the  chink  of  money  as  it  passed 
from  one  to  the  other. 

On  the  first  of  these  occasions  his  attention  was  barely 
arrested  ;  it  was  the  repetition  and  the  avoidance  which  struck 
him  with  its  air  of  secrecy,  and  set  him  pondering  what  business 
his  fellow-apprentice  could  have  with  the  hands  out  of  proper 
place  and  time.  He  knew  him  to  be  not  over-scrupulous.  He 
had  seen  him  at  Knott  Mill  Fair  and  Dirt  Fair  (so  called  from 
its  being  held  in  muddy  November),  or  at  Kersal  Moor  Races, 
with  more  money  to  spend  in  pop,  nuts,  and  gingerbread,  shows 
and  merry-go-rounds,  flying  boats  and  flying  boxes,  fighting 
cocks  and  fighting  men,  than  he  could  possibly  have  saved  out 
of  the  sum  his  father  allowed  him  for  pocket-money,  even  if  he 
had  been  of  the  saving  kind ;  and,  coupling  all  these  things 
together,  Jabez  was  far  from  satisfied.  He  was  aware  that  of 
late  years  stock-taking  had  been  productive  of  much  uneasiness 
to  both  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Ashton.  There  were  deficiencies  of  raw 
material  in  more  than  one  department,  for  which  it  was  impossible 
to  account,  save  that  the  quantity  accredited  to  "  waste "  was 
far  out  of  reasonable  proportion. 

Mr.  Ashton,  suspecting  systematic  peculation  or  embezzlement 
(of  which  many  masters  were  complaining)  had  privately  com- 
municated with  Joseph  Nadin,  the  deputy  constable,  a  gnarled 
graft  from  Bow  Street,  who  bore  the  official  character  of 
extraordinary  vigilance  and  smartness.  He  was  supposed  to  set 
a  watch  on  workpeople  and  others,  but  nothing  came  to  light. 
Perhaps  he  was  too  busy  manufacturing  political  offences,  or 
hunting  down  political  offenders,  to  look  after  the  interests  of 


156  ^THE   MANCHESTER    MAN. 

private  manufacturers.  Sure  it  is  that  silk,  worsted,  webs,  and 
gingham  once  gone  were  not  to  be  traced.  Jabez  was  also  aware 
that  a  shade  rested  on  the  establishment  of  which  he  was  an 
item,  and  felt  that  it  behoved  him  to  clear  it  away  for  his  own 
sake,  if  possible. 

Since  the  discovery  of  his  faculty  for  design,  much  of  his 
time  had  been  occupied  at  a  desk  with  pencils  and  colours, 
making  patterns  for  the  wood-turner,  the  mould-coverer,  the 
tassel-maker,  the  fringe-weaver ;  for  bell-ropes,  brace-webs,  carpet 
and  furniture  bindings ;  and  although  some  of  these  things 
admitted  but  of  little  variety,  there  was  plenty  found  for  him 
to  do. 

This  was  well-pleasing  enough  to  Jabez,  but  the  College 
officials,  who  never  lose  sight  of  the  boys  they  apprentice, 
demurred.  His  indentures  provided  that  he  should  learn  small- 
ware  manufacturing  in  all  its  branches  ;  and  pattern-designing, 
if  part  and  parcel,  was  only  one  branch.  Mr.  Ashton  was  too 
just  not  to  assent,  and  Jabez  went  to  his  active  employment 
again.  But  he  had  a  love  for  his  new  art,  and  an  interest  in 
his  master's  interest,  which  prompted  him  to  say — 

"  If  it  would  be  all  the  same  to  you,  sir,  I  could  draw 
patterns  before  breakfast,  or  in  the  dinner-hour,  or  in  an  evening, 
if  Kezia  had  someone  else  to  wait  on  her." 

The  inevitable  snuff-box  came  out,  Mr.  Ashton's  head  went 
first  on  one  side,  then  on  the  other,  as  he  took  a  long  pinch 
before  he  answered. 

"  No,  my  lad,  it  won't  be  all  the  same  to  me,  nor  to  you 
either,"  he  said,  at  length,  and  Jabez  began  to  look  rueful. 
"You're  a  lad  of  uncommon  parts,  and  I'm  willing  enough  to 
find  them  employment.  But  if  you  work  extra  hours,  apprentice 
or  no  apprentice,  you  must  have  extra  pay.  So  you  see,  Jabez, 
it  won't  be  the  same  to  either  of  us  You  shall  have  the  little 


THE   MANCHESTER    MAM.  157 

room  at  the  end  of  the  lobby  to  yourself,  and  there  you  may 
earn  all  you  can  for  your  own  friends  and  for  me." 

"  Oh,  thank  you,  master ! "  interjected  Jabez,  his  thoughts 
flying  at  once  to  the  old  yard  in  Long  Millgate. 

"And  let  Kezia  wait  upon  herself  if  there  are  no  other  idle 
folk  about;"  concluded  Mr.  Ashton,  and  the  business  was 
settled. 

This  was  about  the  time  Jabez  first  began  to  suspect  Kit 
Townley  of  unfair  dealing ;  and  being  once  more  in  frequent 
contact  with  him  in  the  warehouse,  he  could  not  shut  his  eyes 
or  his  ears. 

Kit  was  then  assistant  putter-out  in  the  fringe  and  tassel 
department,  counted  out  the  moulds,  weighed  out  silk  and  worsted, 
and  called  out  the  quantities  each  hand  took  away,  for  a  young 
booking-clerk  to  enter. 

Jabez  was  still  in  the  brace  and  umbrella  room,  but  there  was 
a  wide  door  of  communication  between  the  two,  and  he  had 
frequently  to  pass  through  the  former  with  finished  goods  for  the 
ware  and  show-rooms  on  the  lower  floors,  and  had  to  go  cautiously 
past  the  large  scale,  lest  he  should  tilt  the  beam  with  his 
ungainly  burdens.  Now  and  then  it  occurred  to  him  that  the 
bulk  of  silk  or  worsted  in  the  scale  was  large  in  proportion  to 
the  weight,  as  called  out  by  Kit  Townley,  and  once  he  was 
moved  to  say — 

"Is  that  balance  true?    or  have  you  made  a  mistake,  Townley?" 

"  Mind  your  own  business,  Clegg,  and  don't  hinder  mine. 
Naught  ails  the  scales,  and  I  know  better  than  make  mistakes." 

"Well,   I   only   thought,"   persisted  Jabez. 

"I  wish  you'd  think  and  keep  those  umbrellas  clear  of  tne 
beam.  You're  always  thrutching  past  with  great  loads  on  your 
shoulder  when  I  am  weighing  out,"  interrupted  Kit,  testily,  and 
Jabez  held  his  peace. 


158  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

But  if  he  went  on  his  way  quietly,  he  was  equally  observant, 
and  saw  the  same  thing  happen  again  too  often  to  be  the  result 
of  accident.  Moreover,  from  the  window  of  the  little  room 
where  he  had  a  broad  desk  for  designing,  he  saw  Kit  meet  the 
same  men  and  women  stealthily  after  hours  under  the  opposite 
gateway. 

"Kit,"  said  he,  one  night,  when  they  went  to  their  attic,  "what 
do  you  meet  Jackson,  Bradley,  and  Mary  Taylor  under  the  gate- 
way for  so  often  ? " 

Kit,  arrested  with  his  warehouse  jacket  half  on  and  half  of 
asked  sharply — 

"  Who  says   I   meet  them   under  the   gateway  ? " 

"  I   say   so.     I   have  seen   you   myself." 

"  And  what  if  you  have  ?  "  Kit  retorted,  snappishly.  "  There's 
no  harm  in  saying  a  civil  word  to  poor  folk  that  I  know 
off." 

"No  harm,  if  that  were  all,"  returned  Jabez,  seriously,  sitting 
down  on  the  edge  of  his  truckle-bed  to  take  off  his  blue 
worsted  stockings  (knitted  by  himself),  "  but  I  have  seen  them 
give  you  money." 

"And  what  of  that,  you  Blue-coat  spy  ?  If  they're  kind  enough 
to  call  at  old  mother  Clowes'  shop  for  toffy  and  humbugs  for 
me,  and  give  me  the  change  back,  what's  that  to  you  ? "  he 
blustered,  coming  up  to  Jabez  with  a  defiant  air. 

"  I  know  you've  a  sweet  tooth,  Townley,"  replied  Jabez,  unmoved, 
"  but  I  fear  nothing  half  so  good  as  Mrs.  Clowes'  toffy  takes 
you  there  so  stealthily." 

"Perhaps,  Mr.  Wiseacre,  you  know  my  business  better  than  I 
do  myself?"  returned  Kit,  bold  as  brass,  though  he  did  begin  to 
feel  qualmish. 

''Perhaps  I  do,  for  I  suspect  you  of  double-dealing,  and  I 
know  what  the  end  of  that  must  be ;  and  I  warn  you  that  I 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  159 

cannot  stand  by  and  see  our  good  master  robbed.  I  should  be 
as  bad  as  you  if  I  did." 

Townley,  enraged,  struck  at  him,  and  there  was  a  scuffle  in 
the  dark,  the  bit  of  candle  in  their  horn  lantern  having  burnt  out. 

Kezia,  who  slept  in  the  adjoining  attic,  rated  them  soundly 
the  next  morning  for  the  disturbance  they  had  made,  threatening 
to  tell  Mrs.  Ashton.  Had  she  done  so,  inquiry  would  have 
followed. 

Jabez,  troubled  and  perplexed,  the  very  next  Sunday  consulted 
old  Simon  Clegg  as  to  the  course  he  should  pursue,  being  alike 
unwilling  to  tell  tales  on  suspicion,  or  to  see  his  kind  master 
wronged. 

"  Eh,  lad,"  quoth  Simon,  rubbing  down  his  knees  as  he  sat, 
"  aw've  manny  a  time  bin  i'  just  sich  a  '  strait  atween  two  ; '  but 
aw  allus  steered  moi  coorse  by  yon  big  book,  and  tha'  mun 
do  t'  seame.  Thah  munriot  think  what  thah  loikes,  or  what 
thah  dunnot  loike  ;  but  thah  mun  do  reef,  chuse  what  comes  or 
goes.  It  is  na  reet  to  steeal ;  and  to  look  on  an'  consent  to  a 
thief  is  to  be  a  thief.  Thi  first  duty's  to  thi  God,  an'  thi  next 
to  thi  payrents  (if  tha'  had  anny),  an'  thi  next  to  thi  measter. 
Thah's  gi'en  the  chap  fair  warnin',  an'  if  he  wunnot  tak  it  th' 
faut's  noan  thoine." 

It  so  happened  that  the  "putter-out"  in  the  brace  and  umbrella- 
room  was  an  old  man  named  Christopher,  who  had  been  in  the 
employment  of  the  Ashtons  (father  and  son)  for  thirty  years.  He 
professed  to  be  very  pious  and  very  conscientious,  but  lamented 
that  increasing  years  brought  with  it  many  ailments  and  infirmities, 
such,  for  instance,  as  headaches,  dizziness,  sudden  weakness  of  the 
limbs,  and  attacks  of  spasms — for  the  cure  of  which  he  kept  a 
bottle  of  peppermint  in  a  corner  cupboard. 

It  was  into  this  room  Augusta  used  to  come  dancing,  to 
coax  old  Christopher  out  of  bits  of  waste  leather,  and  other  odds 


106  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

and  ends,  for  which  only  a  child  could  find  use.  She  was  fond 
of  cutting  and  snipping,  and,  with  an  eye  to  his  own  advantage, 
the  cunning  old  fellow  had  taught  her  how  to  use  the  stamps, 
so  that  she  might  amuse  herself  by  helping  him.  Then  he 
bespoke  her  compassion  for  his  aches  and  pains,  and  often,  on 
holiday  afternoons,  was  troubled  with  one  or  other  ailment, 
which  a  pull  at  the  bottle  and  a  nap  on  the  bundles  of  leather, 
or  gingham,  alone  could  relieve — "if  Miss  Augusta  would  be  so 
obleeging  an'  so  koind  as  to  stamp  out  a  few  tabs  or  straps  for 
him,  or  count  out  umbrella  ferules,  or  wheels,  or  handles,"  for  him. 

And  she,  full  of  the  superabundant  energy  of  youth,  did  it, 
nothing  loth  ;  though  as  her  own  years  increased,  and  with  them 
her  ability  to  help,  came  a  sharp  sense  that  old  Christopher  was 
a  hypocrite — knowledge  she  confided  to  Jabez  one  day,  when  the 
sanctimonious  putter-out  was  resting  his  aching  head  and  uncertain 
legs,  as  usual ;  and  in  order  to  convince  him,  she  drew  a  bottle 
of  gin,  not  peppermint,  from  under  a  pile  of  white  kid. 

Jabez,  too,  had  been  sorry  for  the  old  fellow,  and  often  added 
a  good  part  of  Christopher's  work  to  his  own,  to  relieve  him.  It 
was  this  fact  which  brought  both  Christophers  to  book.  The  old 
cant  was  so  grievously  afflicted  on  the  Monday  afternoon,  that 
Jabez,  seeing  him  quite  incapable  of  doing  his  work  properly  (he 
was  putting  out  umbrellas),  undertook  to  do  it  for  him,  though  it 
was  no  business  of  his — and  so  Mrs.  Ashton  would  have  told 
him,  had  she  been  there. 

He  measured  off  what  he  knew  to  be  sufficient  gingham  for 
two  dozen  umbrellas  (a  workwoman  standing  by  in  waiting),  and 
was  about  to  cut  off  the  length  when  the  woman  arrested  his  hand. 

"  Yo're  furgettin1  th'  weaste,  mi  lad  ;  Mester  Christopher  allus 
alleaws  fur  weaste." 

He  looked  at  the  woman,  aware  there  could  be  no  waste  in 
cutting  umbrella-gores.  She  winked  at  him. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  161 

"Oh!"  said  Jabez,  conscious  he  was  learning  something  not 
down  in  his  indentures.  "And  how  much  does  he  allow?" 

"Abeawt  a  yard  an'  a  hauve  th'  dozen,"  she  replied. 

"And  how  do  you  contrive  to  waste  it?"   Jabez  asked. 

She  winked  again. 

"Eh,  but  yo're  a  young  yorney.  Yo'd  best  ax  Mester 
Christopher  that." 

"I  think  I'd  best  ask  Mrs.  Ashton  that,  if  she's  in  the 
warehouse,"  rejoined  he,  sending  his  scissors  through  the  gingham 
at  the  proper  place. 

"Yo'd  better  not,  or  yo'n  cut  off  yo'r  nose  to  spite  yo'r  own 
feace;"  and  the  woman  nodded  her  head  knowingly.  "T'other 
'prentice  knows  whatn  weaste  means,  if  thah  dunnot ;  an1  manny's 
th'  breet  shillin'  it's  put  in  his  breeches  pocket,  my  lad." 

"Oh,  that's  it,  is  it?"  said  Jabez,  whilst  he  was  counting  over 
the  already  bundled  up  whalebone,  sticks,  &c.,  to  complete  the 
umbrella  fittings.  "As  our  mistress  would  say,  'We  may  live 
and  learn.' " 

He  found  the  whalebone,  ferrules,  handles,  leathers,  wheels, 
were  all  in  excess.  An  extra  umbrella  might  be  made  from  the 
superabundant  materials.  Thereupon  he  wakened  Christopher  to 
do  his  own  work,  simply  remarking  that  he  thought  the  bundles 
of  sticks,  &c.,  had  been  miscounted. 

"  Oh,  no,  Clegg,  they're  a'  reet ;  we're  obleeged  to  put  in 
moore  fur  fear  some  on  'em  shouldn'  split  in  makkin'  oop,"  said 
old  Christopher,  cunningly,  as  if  for  his  information. 

Jabez  took  no  further  notice  then,  but  shouldering  a  great 
bundle  of  large  umbrellas,  carried  them  through  the  fringe  room, 
and  there  noticed  that,  despite  the  caution  he  had  given,  his 
fellow-apprentice  was  dexteriously  manipulating  silk  and  scales  to 
falsify  the  weights  he  called  out. 


CHAPTER    THE    EIGHTEENTH. 


EASTER   MONDAY. 


BALANCED. 


JHAT  evening  Jabez,  a  clear- 
eyed,  open-browed  youth  in 
his  seventeenth  year,  upright, 
well-knit,  and  firmly  built  for 
his  age,  knocked  at  the  parlour- 
door  after  Miss  Augusta  had 
been  sent  to  bed.  There  was 
some  trouble  on  his  countenance, 
as  though  he  was  bent  on  an 
errand  utterly  repugnant  to  him. 
He  was  truly  sorry  to  be  the 
means,  however  remotely,  of 
bringing  disgrace  on  both  an  old  man  and  a  young  one ;  but 
Simon  had  led  him  to  the  conclusion  that  if  there  was  little 
honour  in  turning  informer,  there  would  be  absolute  dishonesty 
in  keeping  silence  whilst  he  saw  his  master  robbed. 

Yet  he  hesitated,  and  lingered  with  his  hand  on  the  handle 
of  the  door,  after  the  clear  voice  of  Mr.  Ashton  had  twice 
invited  him  to  "  come  in." 

Mr.  Ashton  therefore  opened  the  door,  and  saw  Jabez  with 
a  design  for  a  bell-rope  tassel  in  his  hand. 

"Well,  Jabez,  what  is  it?  Something  special  you  have  to 
show  us?" 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  I^^ 

"  No,  sir ;  I  only  brought  this  lest  any  of  the  servants  should 
be  curious  about  my  errand  here." 

Mrs.  Ashton,  who  was  reading  a  romance  from  Mrs.  Edge's 
circulating  library  in  King  Street,  lifted  up  her  head  at  this  ; 
and  Jabez  came  in,  closing  the  door. 

"  Then  what  is  the  errand  which  needs  such  precaution  ? " 
asked  Mr.  Ashton,  resuming  his  seat  and  looking  up  at  the 
clear  face  of  Jabez. 

"  I  think t  sir," — and  he  laid  an  emphasis  on  the  "  think  " — 
"  I  have  found  out  how  you  are  being  robbed,  and  who  it  is 
that  robs  you." 

"  You — what  ? "  exclaimed  Mr.  Ashton,  placing  his  hand  on 
the  elbows  of  his  chair,  and  bending  forward  inquiringly. 

Jabez  repeated  his  statement,  adding,  "  I  think,  sir,  some  of 
your  putters-out  and  workpeople  are  in  league  to  defraud 
you." 

Out  came  Mr.  Ashton's  snuff-box,  down  went  Mrs.  Ashton's 
romance,  whilst  Jabez  told  succinctly  how  his  suspicions  had 
been  first  aroused,  and  how  they  had  been  confirmed  that 
day. 

"  I  did  not  tell  my  suspicions  to  Christopher,  sir,  thinking  I 
had  best  not  interfere,  or  put  the — the — them  on  their  guard 
until  I  had  spoken  to  you.  I  feared  lest  I  should  defeat  your 
plans,"  said  Jabez,  modestly. 

"  Just  so,  Jabez,  just  so ;  you  were  quite  right,  Jabez,"  said 
his  master,  whilst  a  shower  of  snuff  fell  on  neckcloth  ends 
and  shirt  frills. 

"Yes,  quite  right!"  assented  Mrs.  Ashton,  with  customary 
dignity.  " '  A  still  tongue  shows  a  wise  head  ;l  but  we  seldom 
see  an  old  head  on  such  young  shoulders." 

No  active  steps  were  taken  for  a  few  days,  but  Mrs.  Ashton 
was  in  the  warehouse,  and  doubly  observant;  and  Mr.  Ashton 


164  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

was  also  on  the  alert  They  saw  enough  to  convince  them 
that  Jabez  was  correct,  and,  acting  on  first  impulses,  Nadin  was 
again  communicated  with. 

From  the  window  of  Jabez  Clegg's  little  room,  Kit  Townley 
was  seen  to  receive  payment  from  a  fringe-weaver  for  his  share 
of  the  spoil ;  and  then  Nadin,  who  knew  all  about  it  quite 
well  enough  before,  followed  up  the  clue  to  a  waste  dealer's  who 
bought  at  his  own  price  workpeople's  "waste"  (*>.,  warp,  weft, 
silk,  &c.,  remaining  after  work  was  completed),  and  found  trades- 
people willing  enough  to  re-purchase,  well  knowing  that  commodities 
so  varied,  and  so  far  below  market  value,  were  not  honestly 
come  by. 

Nadin,  big  and  blustering  when  there  was  nothing  to  be 
gained  by  silence,  was  for  hauling  the  whole  lot  off  to  prison — 
the  two  Kits,  the  waste  dealer,  and  sundry  workpeople — and  the 
criminal  code  was  a  very  terrible  dispensation  then. 

But  Mr.  Ashton  was  more  merciful ;  he  was  for  milder 
measures.  Besides,  Mr.  Townley  was  an  old  friend  of  his,  and 
for  the  sake  of  the  father  he  forbore  to  drag  the  son  into  a 
court  of  justice;  and  unless  he  prosecuted  all,  he  could  not 
prosecute  any. 

The  sight  of  Nadin  and  his  rough  men,  in  their  red-cuffed, 
red-collared  brown  coats,  with  their  staves  and  handcuffs  ready 
for  use,  was  sufficiently  terrifying.  The  distress  of  old  Mr. 
Townley  was  painful  to  witness.  As  for  Kit  himself,  he  seemed 
less  conscious  of  his  guilt  than  ashamed  of  being  found  out, 
openly  declaring  that  he  "did  no  more  than  was  customary" 
and  no  more  than  old  Christopher,  who  had  led  him  into  it, 
had  done  for  years. 

That  old  hypocrite  went  down  on  his  knees  with  many 
whining  protestations  of  his  innocence;  but,  finding  proof  too 
strong,  he  made  a  clean  breast  of  it,  and  on  learning  that, 


JOSEPH    NADIN 
From  a  Print  in  the  Chetha.ui  Library. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  165 

through  the  generosity  of  his  employer,  he  was  about  to  escape 
prosecution,  which  would  have  led  to  transportation,  he  begged 
piteously  to  be  allowed  to  retain  the  situation  he  had  held  for 
so  many  years. 

"  No,  Kit,"  said  Mrs.  Ashton ;  " '  there  is  no  rogue  like  an  old 
rogue ;'  you  have  not  only  robbed  us  yourself,  but  taught 
others  the  trick.  Think  well  you  have  escaped  the  New 
Bailey,"  (the  Manchester  and  Salford  prison). 

At  that  period  the  constable  who  apprehended  a  criminal 
received  a  bonus  on  each  conviction,  called  "  blood-money,"  so 
large  a  proportion  of  felons  were  executed ;  and  Nadin,  gruff 
and  uncourteous  even  to  his  superiors,  was  disposed  to  resist 
Mr.  Ashton's  amiable  "  interference  with  the  course  of  justice." 
A  liberal  douceur  from  the  elder  Mr.  Townley's  well-stocked 
purse  was  potent  to  allay  his  zeal.  His  runners  were  dismissed, 
and  his  friend  the  waste-dealer  had  a  longer  lease. 

The  clearance  of  rogues  paved  the  way  for  honest  men, 
besides  suggesting  measures  to  prevent  like  embezzlement  in 
future.  The  Ashtons  rightly  thought  that  the  best  way  to 
reward  Jabez  was  to  serve  his  friends.  A  situation  as  putter-out 
to  the  weavers  was  offered  to  Tom  Hulme,  Mr.  Ashton  having 
had  his  eye  on  him  for  some  time,  and  old  Simon,  being  sent 
for,  went  home  delighted  with  commendations  of  Jabez,  and  the 
consciousness  that  the  only  barrier  to  Bess's  marriage  was  now 
removed,  and  that  through  the  foundling's  instrumentality. 

The  only  bar,  that  is,  save  the  double  fees  of  Lent,  and  the 
"  ill-luck "  supposed  to  follow  a  couple  united  during  the 
penitential  forty  days.  Tom  put  up  the  banns,  however,  and 
Easter  Monday  was  chosen  as  the  day  of  days  for  the  ceremony. 
Tom  Hulme's  parents  had  been  married  on  an  Easter  Monday, 
Simon  had  been  tied  to  his  wife  on  an  Easter  Monday,  Jabez 
had  been  made  a  Blue-coat  boy  on  an  Easter  Monday,  and 


1 66  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

apprenticed  on  an  Easter  Monday ;  it  was  consequently  an 
anniversary  to  be  observed  and  respected. 

Early  marriages  prevail  amongst  the  class  made  early  self- 
dependent  by  earning  their  own  living.  Matt  Cooper  had  long 
been  a  grandfather,  Molly  and  his  three  eldest  boys  having  been 
married  and  settled.  A  brisk  young  butcher  coming  to  the 
tannery  with  hides  had  met  Martha,  the  other  girl,  bearing  her 
father's  dinner,  and  been  so  taken  with  her  sharp,  active  gait, 
and  saucy  answers,  that  he  proposed  to  transfer  her  to  his  shop 
beyond  Ancoats  Lane  canal  bridge,  and  to  make  his  offer  more 
palatable,  suggested  an  amalgamation  of  the  two  households, 
and  to  take  the  youngest  lad — Matthew,  aged  fourteen — as  his 
apprentice. 

So  ardent  and  promising  a  lover  was  not  to  be  despised. 
Martha  did  not  say  "No,"  and  Matt,  beginning  to  stoop  in  the 
shoulders,  rejoiced  at  the  prospective  haven  for  his  declining 
years. 

It  was  arranged  that  they  should  be  married  along  with  Bess 
and  Tom  Hulme  ;  and  so  Matthew  Cooper  went  with  the  Cleggs 
to  church,  not  as  a  gallant  bridegroom,  but,  more  suitably,  to 
give  away  a  bride. 

And  now,  how  shall  I  describe  the  scene  at  the  Old  Church 
on  Easter  Monday,  to  convey  anything  like  an  idea  to  modern 
readers,  unacquainted  with  the  locality,  the  period,  and  the 
habits  of  the  people  ? 

It  must  be  borne  in  mind  that  registrars'  offices  did  not 
exist ;  that  there  was  no  marrying  at  dissenting  chapels ;  that 
few,  if  any,  churches  were  licensed  for  the  solemnisation  of 
matrimony  ;  and  that  the  collegiate  parish  church  of  Manchester 
was  the  nucleus  towards  which  the  marriageable  inhabitants  of 
all  the  surrounding  townships  and  villages  turned  at  the  most 
important  epoch  of  their  lives. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  167 

The  venerable  pile  (now  being  doctored  by  restorers)  was 
set,  as  it  were,  in  a  ring-fence  of  old  houses,  with  an  inner 
ring  of  low  wall  encircling  the  churchyard,  which,  as  grave-stones 
testified,  had  once  extended  to  the  very  house  steps.  As  I  have 
elsewhere  said,  the  path  between  this  wall  and  the  houses  was 
known  as  Half  Street,  a  portion  of  which,  containing  Mrs. 
Clowes'  old  shop,  still  remains ;  and  did  I  enumerate  all  the 
public-houses  in  this  ring-fence  which  offered  accommodation  to 
wedding  and  christening  parties,  only  a  future  generation  of 
antiquaries  would  thank  me ;  and  even  they  might  doubt  the 
facts  set  down  in  a  work  of  fiction. 

Nevertheless,  on  Easter  Monday  not  one  of  these  hostelries 
had  a  spare  foot  of  room.  Every  window  and  every  door 
stood  wide  open.  Men  and  women,  gaily  dressed  as  their  own 
means  or  friendly  wardrobes  would  allow,  went  in  and  out,  filled 
rooms  and  passages,  leaned  from  the  windows  with  ribbons  flying 
loose,  or  with  pipes  and  ale-pots  in  their  hands,  calling  to  their 
friends  below,  whilst  rival  fiddlers  (almost  every  party  having  its 
own)  scraped  away  in  anything  but  harmony.  Horses  and  carts 
blocked  up  every  avenue,  and  the  churchyard  itself  was  thronged 
with  an  excited  crowd. 

Only  the  parties  immediately  interested  were  admitted  into  the 
sacred  edifice,  but  to  reach  the  doors  they  had  to  force  their 
way,  and  could  only  return  in  couples  through  a  dense  avenue  of 
humanity,  amid  a  shower  of  jests,  many  not  the  most  seemly. 

Bess  wore  only  a  white  cambric  gown,  and  a  straw  bonnet 
crossed  with  white  ribbon,  both  of  which  Mrs.  Ashton  had 
provided;  but  somewhere  in  Tom's  Peninsular  campaigns  he  had 
picked  up  a  bright-coloured  scarf,  which  made  her  glorious  to 
behold,  and  the  envy  of  many  a  country  bride.  His  old  uniform 
had  been  kept  for  the  occasion,  and  they  looked  grand  together; 
but  the  quiet  content  on  Bess's  face  was  better  than  the  grandeur. 


168  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Nat  Bradshaw,  the  butcher-bridegroom,  was  of  a  jovial  turn, 
and  nothing  would  do  but  the  whole  double  wedding-party,  Jabez 
included,  should  turn  into  the  Ring-o'-Bells  to  drink  health  and 
happiness  to  the  brides,  and  give  them  spirit  to  go  through  the 
ceremony  befittingly.  Bess  and  Martha  hung  back  blushing  like 
peonies ;  but  Nathaniel  was  not  to  be  gainsaid,  and  in  they  went ; 
and  whilst  the  brides  sipped,  he  quaffed,  and  pressed  the  others 
to  do  likewise. 

At  length  Jabez,  who  had  been  brought  up  temperately,  cried 
out  they  would  be  too  late — Parson  Brookes  had  been  gone  into 
the  church  half-an-hour. 

There  was  a  general  rush  from  the  room,  and  in  the  scramble 
to  get  first  the  party  got  separated;  Matthew  pulling  his  daughter 
along  and  leaving  the  bridegroom  to  follow.  They  elbowed  their 
way  into  the  church,  and  reached  the  choir  just  as  Joshua 
pronounced  the  benediction  over  some  twenty  couples  closely 
packed  around  the  altar.  Then  there  was  a  jostle  and  a  scramble 
for  "first  kisses,"  amidst  which  rose  the  rough  voice  of  the 
chaplain. 

"Now  clear  out,  clear  out!  Do  your  kissing  outside.  There 
are  other  folks  waiting  to  be  wed.  Do  you  think  I  want  to  be 
kept  here  all  day  tying  up  fools?" 

That  instalment  of  the  married  having  been  hustled  away  to 
sign  the  church  books,  with  their  attendant  witnesses,  Joshua 
called  out  impatiently  to  the  waiting  couples,  amongst  which  were 
Bess  and  Tom — 

'•Come,  come!  How  long  do  you  mean  to  keep  me  standing 
here?  Do  you  intend  to  be  married  or  not?  Oh!  it's  thee,  is 
it?  [to  Bess.]  Well,  thah's  waited  long  enough,  See  that  you 
make  her  a  good  husband  [to  Tom.]  Kneel  down  here,"  and  he 
placed  them,  not  roughly,  almost  in  the  centre  of  the  altar, 
pulling  others  to  their  knees  beside  them,  with  scant  ceremony. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  169 

"What  do  you  want  here?"  in  his  harshest  tones  he  asked  a 
very  youthful-looking  couple. 

"To  be  wed,"  was  the  prompt  answer  of  the  young  man. 

"Ugh!"  grunted  the  Parson,  "what's  the  world  coming  to?  I 
used  to  marry  men  and  women — now  I  marry  children!  Here, 
you  silly  babies,  take  your  places." 

Another  file  of  candidates  for  matrimony  being  ranged  (after 
some  pushing  and  pulling)  in  pairs  round  the  altar,  Joshua  took 
his  book,  and  the  service  began. 

So  long  as  it  was  general,  all  went  tolerably  smoothly— women 
and  men  alike  were  too  bashful  and  confused  to  know  much 
what  was  said,  or  what  they  responded,  and  certainly  they  rarely 
looked  in  each  other's  faces.  At  length  there  was  a  slight  stir 
and  a  whispering  from  the  quarter  where  Matt  Cooper  stood 
beside  his  daughter. 

"Silence  there!"  roared  Joshua,  in  a  voice  which  set  a  row  ot 
hearts  in  a  flutter,  and  there  was  silence. 

But  he  had  come  to  the  troth-plight,  and  again  the  same 
commotion  was  apparent  as  he  approached  the  Coopers. 

"What's  wrong  here?"  he  demanded,  pausing  before  Martha, 
who  was  all  in  a  tremble. 

"Moi  lass  is  waitin'  fur  her  mon,"  answered  Matthew  from 
behind. 

"Ugh!  I  can't  wait  for  laggards.  Here,  you  [addressing  Tom 
Hulme],  answer  for  him.  What's  his  name?"  [to  Martha.] 

"Nathaniel,"  she  faltered. 

"I,  Nathaniel,    take  thee,   Martha,  to  be  my "  he  went  on, 

insisting  on  the  response  of  Tom,  who  looked  aghast  at  the 
prospect  of  marrying  the  wrong  woman,  and  being  told  "to  pair 
as  they  went  out,"  as  Joshua  had  summarily  adjusted  a  like 
mistake  heretofore;  or,  what  was  worse,  of  being  saddled  with 
two  wives* 


170  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

On  imperturable  Joshua  went  with  the  ceremony,  bent  on  a 
marriage  by  proxy.  His  experience  having  taught  him  that  women 
of  the  working  class,  as  a  rule,  took  charge  of  their  wedding-rings, 
he  asked  Martha  for  hers,  which  was  duly  produced,  and  without 
further  ado  he  directed  Tom  Hulme  to  place  it  on  Martha's  finger, 
as  he  had  previously  put  one  on  Bess's,  and  with  the  same 
formula. 

They  had  got  as  far  as  "With  this  ring  I  thee  wed,"  when  the 
missing  bridegroom  came  in  hot  haste  through  the  side  door  into 
the  chancel,  closely  followed  by  Jabez,  who  had  been  in  quest  of 
him. 

He  was  flushed  with  ale  and  excitement,  but  was  clear-headed 
enough  to  perceive  what  was  going  forward,  and  to  the  chaplain's 
chagrin,  plucked  the  young  woman  back  from  the  altar  and  his 
proxy,  and  the  ring  rolled  to  the  ground. 

Then  ensued  an  altercation  between  the  butcher  and  Joshua 
Brookes,  the  latter  insisting  that  what  was  good  enough  for  princes 
might  be  good  enough  for  him,  and  refusing  to  go  over  the 
ceremony  again.  But  an  apparitor  drew  the  tardy  bridegroom 
aside,  and  whispered  to  him  a  few  mollifying  words,  whilst  Joshua 
concluded  the  ceremonial,  and  then  hurried  from  the  altar  with 
hardly  a  look  at  either  Jabez  or  Simon  as  he  passed  out  of 
the  chancel,  chafed  and  angry.  Another  clergyman  took  his 
place,  and  in  the  next  group  Nat  Bradshaw  and  the  half-married 
Martha  took  theirs.  The  lost  ring  had  a  substitute  provided  by 
the  clerk  for  such  emergencies ;  and  this  time  they  were  as  surely 
married  as  Bess  and  Tom  had  been. 

Jabez  had  found  the  truant  bridegroom  at  the  "  Ring-o'-Bells," 
oblivious  of  the  flight  of  time,  or  of  his  party.  The  story  having 
got  wind,  there  was  a  general  rush  in  their  direction. 

"  Here's  th'  mon  wur  too  late  to  be  wed  ! "— "  Tak'  care  thi  woife 
hasna  two  husbants  !  "— "  Hoo's  getten  two  husbants  o'ready  I  '— 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


171 


"See  thah's  tied  up  gradely,  lass  ! "— "  Thah'rt  a  pratty  fellow!" 
and  much  more  which  might  have  provoked  a  man  less  good- 
humoured  in  his  cups. 

As  it  was  the  new  brides  clung  to  their  husbands,  half  afraid 
of  those  noisy  demonstrations,  and  were  not  sorry  to  get  clear  of 
the  crowd,  and  thread  their  way  to  Ancoats  Lane,  where  the 
thriving  butcher,  assisted  by  Mrs.  Ashton,  Mrs.  Clowes,  and  Mrs. 
dough,  had  prepared  a  dinner  which  bore  no  proportion  to  the 
"  short  commons  "  of  every-day'  fare. 


CHAPTER    THE    NINETEENTH. 


PETERLOO. 

EOPLE  had  been  naturally  san- 
guine that  the  conclusion  of 
peace  would  inaugurate  pros- 
perity, that  commerce  would 
flourish  with  the  flourish  of 
pens  on  the  parchments  of 
a  treaty.  But  the  war  had 
been  of  too  long  continuance, 
too  universal,  too  destructive 
of  life  and  property  and  crops. 
When  grounds  lie  untilled  for 
years ;  when  swords  reap  har- 
vests that  should  have  been 
left  for  the  sickle;  when  cattle 
are  slaughtered  wholesale  for  unproductive  soldiery,  or  for  lack  of 
provender  ;  when  orchards  and  vineyards  which  have  taken  years 
to  mature  are  given  to  the  flames,  there  can  be  no  sudden 
re-adjustment  of  commercial  matters.  Food  products  are  the  staple 
of  trade,  which  is  only  a  system  of  exchange  facilitated  by  coin 
and  paper. 

What  could  a  food-producing  continent,  down-trod  by  the  iron 
hoof  of  war,  have  to  offer  in  exchange  for  our  textile  fabrics  and 
hardware  ? 


SAM  BAMFORD'S  COTTAUB, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  173 

Trade  could  not  revive  until  there  was  food  to  sustain  it.  Yet 
the  mass  of  the  people  in  1816,  still  further  impoverished  by  a 
deficient  home  harvest,  imputed  the  evil  to  defective  legislation, 
and  the  exclusion  of  foreign  corn,  save  at  famine  prices,  and 
discontent  became  universal. 

Strangely  enough,  the  agricultural  districts  which  the  Corn 
Laws  were  supposed  to  protect,  were  the  first  to  cry  out  against 
them,  and  to  break  out  into  riot — not  Manchester,  Oldham, 
Nottingham,  and  the  manufacturing  centres. 

This  year  closed  on  a  popular  demand  for  Parliamentary 
reform,  but  not  a  riotous  one.  Sunday  schools  had  created  readers 
on  humble  hearths,  and  William  Cobbett  supplied  them  with  books 
and  pamphlets  bearing  on  their  own  rights  and  wrongs.  They 
were  read  with  avidity,  and  he  became  a  power.  He  counselled 
peaceful  persistence,  not  armed  resistance.  Hampden  Clubs  were 
formed  all  over  the  country,  in  which  the  political  questions  of 
the  day  were  discussed  with  as  much  freedom  as  stringent 
law  permitted.  Public  speakers  and  poets,  of  whom  Samuel 
Bamford  was  one,  arose  from  the  ranks  of  the  working  classes  ; 
and  the  men  banded  together  under  such  leadership  called 
themselves  Radical  Reformers,  a  title  which  soon  degenerated  into 
Radicals. 

The  members  of  these  rapidly-spreading  clubs  subscribed  a 
penny  a  week  each.  Delegates  were  sent  to  meet  and  debate 
together;  and  on  the  4th  November,  1816,  a  large  meeting  was 
held  in  St.  Peter's  Field,  Manchester  (strangely  enough,  the  site 
of  the  present  Free  Trade  Hall),  "to  take  into  consideration  the 
distressed  state  of  the  country." 

Other  meetings  were  held  by  the  Reformers  and  their  delegates; 
and  on  the  13th  January,  1817,  their  political  opponents  held  a 
counter-meeting,  to  consider  the  "necessity  of  adopting  measures 
for  the  maintenance  of  the  public  peace;"  for  certainly  the 


174  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

meeting  of  large  masses  of  disaffected  people,  however  peacefully 
disposed  in  the  outset,  and  individually,  becomes  threatening  in 
the  aggregate.  No  one  cares  much  for  a  grain  of  gunpowder  ; 
but  mass  the  grains  into  pounds,  and  the  pounds  into  tons,  and 
there  is  certainly  need  of  precaution  in  dealing  with  it. 

Amongst  the  precautionary  measures  deemed  necessary  for  the 
protection  of  the  peace,  and  the  suppression  of  seditious  meetings, 
were  the  suspension  of  the  Habeas  Corpus  Act,  and  the  enrolment 
of  the  Manchester  and  Cheshire  Yeomanry  Cavalry,  under  the 
command  of  Sir  T.  J.  Trafford  ;  Laurence  Aspinall,  Ben  Travis, 
and  John  Walmsley  joining  the  corps. 

On  the  24th  of  March — since  known  as  Blanket  Monday — a 
large  number  of  men  assembled  in  St.  Peter's  Field,  with  blankets 
upon  their  shoulders,  with  the  openly-expressed  design  of  walking 
to  London,  to  lay  their  grievances  before  George,  the  Prince 
Regent,  in  person.  The  blankets  were  intended  for  coverlets  on 
the  wayside  beds  Mother  Earth  alone  would  spread  for  them. 
The  meeting  was  dispersed  by  military,  the  newly-formed  Yeomanry 
distinguishing  themselves  by  trapping  a  number  of  the  Blanketeers 
who  had  prematurely  set  out,  and  who  had  not  got  farther  than 
Stockport. 

This  was  the  signal  for  widespread  alarm,  and  for  Joseph 
Nadin  to  prove  his  discrimination  and  vigilance  by  scenting  out 
imaginary  plots,  and  arresting  suspected  plotters,  whom  he  tied 
together,  handcuffed,  ill-used,  and  hauled  to  prison,  or  before 
magistrates  (whether  for  acquittal  or  conviction),  for  little  other 
reason  than  the  dangerous  power  given  by  the  suspension  of  the 
Habeas  Corpus  Act.  He  was  a  big,  blustering,  overbearing 
fellow,  with  a  large  grizzled  head,  closely  set  on  strong,  broad 
shoulders,  with  overhanging  brows  drawn  close,  and  a  sallow  skin  ; 
and  his  officious  zeal  in  arresting  such  persons  as  Samuel  Bamford, 
the  weaver-poet,  Thomas  Walker,  and  the  amateur  actors  he  had 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN,  175 

earlier  laid  hands  on  at  a  public-house  in  Ancoats  Lane,  laying 
to  their  charge  plots  which  had  their  origin  in  his  own  brain, 
did  more  to  embitter  the  people  against  their  rulers  than  those 
dust-blinded  rulers  suspected. 

The  Radical  agitation  reached  its  climax  in  1819,  when  our 
friend  Jabez  was  a  well-formed,  well-favoured  young  man  of 
twenty,  high  in  the  estimation  of  his  master  and  mistress. 
Popular  rights  had  found  a  fresh  champion  in  Henry  Hunt,  the 
son  of  a  well-descended  Wiltshire  yeoman,  a  man  of  gentlemanlike 
bearing  and  attire,  agreeable  features,  mobile  in  expression,  and 
dull  grey  eyes  which  lit  like  fiery  stars  when  in  the  fervour  of 
his  speech  his  soul  shone  out  of  them. 

"  Orator  Hunt,"  as  he  was  ironically  dubbed  by  those  who 
loved  him  not,  was  the  very  man  to  move  the  people  as  he 
himself  was  moved ;  his  energy  and  fervid  eloquence  carried  his 
hearers  with  him,  and  as  he  was  wont  to  lash  himself  to  a  fury 
which  streaked  his  pale  eyes  with  blood,  and  forced  them 
forward  in  their  sockets,  no  wonder  the  Manchester  magnates 
were  afraid  of  his  influence  on  the  multitude,  or  that  the  Prince 
Regent  should  issue  a  proclamation  against  seditious  meetings 
and  writings,  or  the  military  drilling  of  the  populace,  then  carried 
on  with  so  fervid  an  orator  to  inflame  them. 

When  Henry  Hunt  made  a  public  entry  into  Manchester,  and 
attended  the  theatre  the  same  evening,  a  disturbance  ensued  ;  he 
was  expelled,  and  the  next  evening  the  theatre  was  closed  to 
preserve  peace.  Then  a  Watch-and-Ward,  composed  of  the  chief 
inhabitants,  was  established ;  a  meeting  called  by  the  Radicals 
was  prohibited;  but  that  did  not  deter  the  calling  of  another 
on  St.  Peter's  Field,  on  the  i6th  of  August,  when  a  couple  of 
large  waggons  were  boarded  over  to  serve  as  temporary  hustings, 
whence  Orator  Hunt  from  the  midst  of  his  friends  might  address 
the  assembled  multitude. 


176  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Augusta  Ashton  had  just  passed  her  fifteenth  birthday.  She 
was  slim,  graceful,  and  tall  beyond  her  age,  and  was  surpassing 
lovely.  She  was  still  under  Mrs.  Broadbent's  care,  and  went  to 
school  that  morning  as  usual,  other  meetings  having  passed  off 
quietly,  and  no  apprehension  of  disorder  being  entertained  until 
long  after  nine  oclock. 

About  that  hour  the  people  began  to  assemble  from  all 
quarters  on  the  open  ground  near  St.  Peter's  Church — not  blood- 
thirsty roughs,  but  men,  women,  and  children,  drawn  thither  for 
a  sight  of  a  holiday  spectacle.  True,  of  the  collective  eighty 
thousand,  though  there  were  many  thousands  of  earnest,  thinking 
men  who  went  to  grapple  with  important  questions,  yet  no  such 
mighty  gathering  could  be  without  its  leaven  of  savagery  and 
mischief. 

But  those  who  went  from  the  mills  and  the  workshops,  the 
hills  and  the  valleys  around  Manchester,  walking  in  procession, 
with  bugles  playing  and  gay  banners  flying,  though  they  might 
look  haggard,  pinched  and  careworn,  made  no  attempt  to  look 
deplorable,  or  excite  compassion.  They  wore  their  Sunday  suits 
and  clean  neckties  ;  and  by  the  side  of  fustian  and  corduroy 
walked  the  coloured  prints  and  stuffs  of  wives  and  sweethearts, 
who  went  as  for  a  gala-day,  to  break  the  dull  monotomy  of 
their  lives,  and  to  serve  as  a  guarantee  of  peaceable  intention. 

Such  at  least  was  the  main  body,  marshalled  in  Middleton 
by  stalwart,  stout-hearted  Samuel  Bamford,  which  passed  in 
marching  order,  five  abreast,  down  Newton  Lane,  through  Oldham 
Street,  skirted  the  Infirmary  Gardens,  and  proceeded  along  Mosley 
Street,  each  leader  with  a  sprig  of  peaceful  laurel  in  his  hat. 
Women  and  little  ones  preceded  them,  or  ran  on  the  footway, 
singing,  dancing,  shouting  gleefully  in  the  bright  sunshine,  as  at 
any  other  pageant  to  which  the  music  of  the  bugle  gave  life  and 
spirit,  and  waving  flags  gave  colour. 


SAMUEL    BAMFORD. 
From   a    Photograph. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  177 

Such,  too,  were  the  bands  which,  with  banners  and  music,  fell 
in  with  them  on  their  route,  and  together  parted  the  dense 
multitude  as  a  wedge,  on  their  way  to  the  decorated  platform. 
Thence  Samuel  Bamford  observed  that  other  leaders  had  been 
less  temperate.  There  were  to  be  seen  black  banners  and 
placards  inscribed  with  seditious  mottoes  and  emblems:  caps  of 
liberty,  skull  and  crossbones  "  Bread  or  Blood,"  "  Liberty  or 
Death,"  "  Equal  Representation  or  Death ; "  this  last  with  an 
obverse  of  clasped  hands  and  heart,  and  the  one  word  "Love," 
but  all  of  the  same  funereal  black  and  white. 

But  ere  he  could  well  note  or  deplore  this,  the  scattered 
bands  struck  up  "  God  Save  the  King,"  and  "  Rule,  Britannia," 
deafening  shouts  rent  the  air,  and  Henry  Hunt,  drawn  in  an 
open  barouche  by  white  horses,  made  his  way  slowly  to  the 
hustings  amidst  the  enthusiastic  cheering  of  the  multitude.  A 
Mrs.  Fildes,  arrayed  in  white,  with  a  cap  of  liberty  on  her  head, 
and  a  red  cap  borne  on  a  pole  before  her,  sat  on  the  box-seat. 
It  is  said  she  had  been  hoisted  there  from  the  crowd.  Be  this 
as  it  may,  she  paid  dearly  for  her  temerity  before  the  day 
was  out. 

Barely  had  Henry  Hunt  ascended  the  platform,  taken  off  his 
white  hat,  and  begun  to  address  his  attentive  auditory,  when 
there  was  a  startling  cry,  "  The  soldiers  are  upon  us  ! "  and  the 
I5th  Hussars,  galloping  round  a  corner,  came  with  their  spare 
jackets  flying  loose,  their  sabres  drawn,  and  threw  themselves, 
men  and  horse,  upon  the  closely-packed  mass,  without  a  note 
of  warning.  All  had  been  preconcerted,  pre-arranged. 

From  the  early  morning,  magistrates  had  been  sitting  in 
conclave  at  the  "Star  Inn,"  and  there  Hugh  Birley,  a  cotton- 
spinner,  was  said  to  have  regaled  too  freely  the  officers  and 
men  of  his  yeomanry  corps,  so  soon  to  be  let  loose  on  the 
"swinish  multitude,"  as  they  called  them. 


17^  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

A  cordon  of  military  and  yeomanry  had  been  drawn  round 
St.  Peter's  Field,  like  a  horde  of  wolves  round  a  flock  of  sheep. 
The  boroughreeve  and  other  magistrates  issued  their  orders  from 
a  house  at  the  corner  of  Mount  Street,  which  overlooked  the 
scene ;  and  thence  (not  from  a  central  position,  where  he  could 
be  properly  seen  and  heard)  a  clerical  magistrate  read  the  Riot 
Act  from  a  window  in  an  inaudible  voice. 

Then  Nadin,  the  cowardly  bully,  having  a  warrant  to  apprehend 
the  ringleaders — although  he  had  a  line  of  constables  thence  to 
the  hustings, — declared  he  dared  not  serve  it  without  the  support 
of  the  military. 

His  plea  was  heard  ;  and  thus  through  the  blindness,  the 
incapacity,  the  cowardice,  or  the  self-importance  of  this  one  man, 
soldiery  hardened  in  the  battle-field,  yeomanry  fired  with  drink, 
were  let  loose  like  barbarians  on  a  closely-wedged  mass  of  un- 
armed people,  and  one  of  the  most  atrocious  massacres  in  history 
was  the  result. 

Amid  the  shouts  and  shrieks  of  men  and  women,  cries  of 
"Shame!  shame!"  "Break!  break!"  "They  are  killing  them 
in  front !  "  "  Break  !  break  !  "  Hussars,  infantry,  yeomanry  rushed 
on  the  defenceless  people.  They  were  sabred,  stabbed,  shot, 
pressed  down,  trampled  down  by  horse  and  infantry ;  and  in  less 
than  ten  minutes,  the  actual  field  was  cleared  of  all  but  mounds  of 
dead  and  dying,  severed  limbs,  torn  garments,  pools  of  blood,  pawing 
steeds  and  panting  heroes  (?).  Men  and  maidens,  mothers  and  babes, 
had  been  butchered  by  their  own  countrymen  for  no  crime. 

Hunt  had  been  taken,  Bamford  had  escaped — to  be  arrested 
afterwards — and  Mrs.  Fildes,  hanging  suspended  by  a  nail  in 
the  platform  which  had  caught  her  white  dress,  was  slashed 
across  her  exposed  body  by  one  of  the  brave  cavalry. 

But  the  butchery  and  the  panic  had  spread  from  the  deserted 
Aceldama  over  the  whole  town,  and  ere  long  the  roar  of  cannon 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


179 


began  to  add  its  thunder  to  the  terrors  of  the  day.  As  the 
first  shrieking  fugitives  rushed  for  their  lives  down  Mosley 
Street,  with  the  Manchester  and  Cheshire  Yeomanry  in  swift 
pursuit,  Mrs.  Ashton,  for  the  first  time  alarmed  for  the  safety 
of  Augusta,  hurried  through  the  warehouse  in  search  of  Mr 
Ashton,  who  was  nowhere  to  be  found.  On  the  stairs  she  mef 
Jabez,  in  a  state  of  equal  excitement. 

"  Miss  Augusta !      Is  she  at  school  ?      Had   I   not  better " 

"Oh,  yes!  Run!  run!"  cried  the  mother,  anticipating  him. 
"Go  through  the  back  streets,  and  take  her  to  her  aunt's.  It 
is  not  safe  to  bring  her  home." 

He  was  gone  before  she  concluded.  (His  master's  daughter 
was  the  very  light  of  his  young  eyes.)  From  Back  Mosley 
Street  he  tore  down  Rook  Street  and  Meal  Street,  into  Fountain 
Street,  across  Market  Street — already  in  a  ferment — and  onward 
down  High  Street  without  a  pause. 

By  good  fortune  he  met  the  young  girl  and  a  schoolfellow 
on  their  usual  homeward  route,  at  the  Corner  of  Church  Street, 
almost  afraid  to  proceed,  the  distant  firing  had  so  scared  them. 

"  This  way,  this  way,  Miss  Ashton !"  was  his  impetuous  cry, 
as  he  hurried  them  from  the  main  thoroughfare  (into  which  a 
stream  of  terror-stricken  people  was  flowing),  through  by-streets, 
and  a  private  entry  to  the  back  door  of  Mr.  Chadwick's  house, 
which  they  found  unfastened ;  and  then  he  thanked  God  in  his 
heart  of  hearts  that  she  at  least  was  safe. 

Upstairs  rushed  Augusta,  followed  by  her  young  friend,  in 
search  of  her  aunt  and  cousin,  whom  she  found  in  the  drawing- 
room  in  a  state  of  the  greatest  trepidation  and  alarm. 

Dolly,  a  stout  woman-servant,  had  gone  to  Fountain  Street, 
as  was  her  custom,  to  assist  her  paralysed  master  home  to 
dinner.  From  the  windows,  meanwhile,  they  had  seen  men, 
women,  and  children  flying  along,  hatless,  bonnetless,  shoeless,  their 


180  tHB   MANCHESTER    MAN. 

clothes  rent,  their  faces  livid  and  ghastly,  cut  and  bleeding,  shrieking 
in  pain  and  terror  as  they  ran  or  dropped  in  the  path  of 
pursuing  troopers;  and  their  hearts  throbbed  wildly  with  affright 
as  they  pictured  the  helpless  old  man  caught  in  that  whirlpool 
of  horror  and  destruction,  with  only  a  woman's  arm  to  protect 
him. 

"  Jabez  will  go  and  meet  them,"  cried  Augusta ;  "  he  is 
below !" 

"Jabez!"  exclaimed  Ellen,  starting  to  her  feet,  her  white  face 
flushed  for  a  brief  moment.  "Oh,  no!  no!" 

But  without  waiting  to  hear  her  cousin's  exclamation,  or  to 
note  her  change  of  colour,  Augusta  had  run  downstairs  to  Jabez, 
waiting  in  the  long  kitchen,  and  communicated  her  aunt's  fears 
to  him. 

Personal  danger  was  unthought  of  when  Augusta  Ashton 
pointed  to  needful  service.  The  lobby  door  closed  after  him 
with  a  bang  before  she  had  well  explained  her  wishes ;  and 
when  Augusta  re-appeared  in  the  drawing-room,  Ellen  Chadwick's 
head  was  stretched  from  the  window,  watching  the  sturdy  young 
man  stem  the  on-rushing  tide  of  humanity — the  only  one  in  all 
that  crowd  with  his  face  turned  towards  the  danger  from  which 
the  rest  fled  in  desperation. 

The  sights  and  sounds  that  met  her  eyes  and  ears  were 
terrible ;  gashed  faces  and  maimed  limbs ;  appeals  and  impre- 
cations mingled  with  the  roar  of  a  surging  crowd  ;  the  dropping 
fire  of  musketry ;  the  coarse  shouts  of  the  yeomanry,  drunk  with 
wine  and  blood ! 

As  her  fearful  eyes  followed  Jabez,  a  man  rushed  past  whose 
hand  had  been  chopped  off  at  the  wrist.  With  the  remaining 
hand  he  held  his  hat  to  catch  the  vital  stream  which  gushed 
from  the  bleeding  stump  ;  and  as  he  ran,  he  cried  "  Blood  for 
blood !  blood  for  blood !"  in  a  tone  which  made  her  shudder. 


A    PETERLOO    INCIDENT. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  181 

Faint  and  sick  she  drew  back  her  head ;  but  open 
apprehension  for  her  dear  father,  and  secret  fear  for  the 
apprentice  who  had  gone  so  readily  to  pilot  him  through  that 
surging  human  sea,  caused  her  to  look  forth  once  more. 
Augusta  and  her  friend,  with  blanched  cheeks  and  lips,  were 
also  at  the  window,  fascinated  as  it  were  with  that  which 
chilled  them. 

Jabez  turned  the  corner  into  Piccadilly,  where  one  or  two  good 
brick  houses  had  been  converted  into  shops  without  lowering  the 
floors  or  removing  the  original  palisades,  which  enclosed  bold 
flights  of  steps  leading  to  doors  with  respectable  shop-windows 
on  each  side.  A  confectioner  of  some  standing  named 
Mabbott  occupied  the  second  of  these.  He  and  his  neighbour 
were  hurriedly  putting  up  their  shutters  as  Jabez,  crushing  his 
way  through  the  thickening  crowd,  saw  Molly  and  Mr.  Chadwick 
jammed  up  against  the  palisades,  a  young  mounted  yeomanry 
officer,  in  all  his  pride  of  blue  and  silver,  brandishing  his  sabre, 
urging  his  unwilling  steed  upon  them,  and  shouting — 

"  Move  on,  you  rebels,  move  on !   or  I'll  cut  you  down  !" 

Strong  of  nerve  and  will,  Jabez  thrust  the  impending  throng 
aside,  and  grasped  the  horse's  reins  to  force  it  back,  crying  as 
he  did  so — 

"  Shame,  you  coward !  to  attack  a  woman  and  a  paralysed 
man!" 

"Come  in  here,  quick,  Mr.  Chadwick!"  cried  Mr.  Mabbott  at 
that  instant,  opening  his  closed  gate  and  drawing  the  feeble 
gentleman  and  his  attendant  within,  as  the  sabre,  raised  either  to 
terrify  or  strike  the  old  man,  came  down  on  the  outstretched  arm 
of  Jabez,  gashing  it  frightfully. 

Another  of  the  corps  riding  past,  with  his  eyes  full  upon  them, 
stopped  his  horse  at  the  gallop,  as  if  to  interpose,  but  he  was 
too  late. 


!82  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

"My  God!  Aspinall,  what  have  you  done?"  he  exclaimed,  and 
throwing  his  own  reins  over  the  palisades,  he  dismounted  hastily, 
caught  at  Jabez,  who  had  staggered  back,  and  drew  him  too 
within  the  iron  screen,  and  helped  him  also  into  the  confectioner's, 
as  the  other,  with  a  derisive  laugh  which  ill-became  his  handsome 
face,  turned  at  a  hand-gallop  up  Oldham  Street,  where  he  over- 
took a  confrere,  and  with  him  sneered  at  "that  soft-hearted 
Ben  Travis." 

Ellen  and  Augusta  had  not  lost  sight  of  Jabez  many  minutes 
when  two  of  the  Manchester  Yeomanry,  their  dripping  sabres 
flashing  in  the  August  sun,  wheeled  their  panting  charges  round, 
and  rode  (heedless  of  the  shrinking  wretches  beneath  their  hoofs) 
across  the  footway,  and  made  the  brute  beasts  rear  and  plunge 
against  the  area-rails. 

"Shut  your  windows,  or  we'll  fire  upon  you!"   they  shouted. 

Nothing  daunted,  Ellen  called  back  indignantly — 

"John  Walmsley,  I'm  ashamed  of  you!" 

Not  sober  enough  to  distinguish  friends  from  foes,  again  the 
pair  launched  their  threat,  "Shut  the  window,  or  we  fire!"  and 
Ellen,  seeing  pistols  advanced,  drew  the  window  down,  Mrs. 
Chadwick,  in  much  trepidation,  closing  the  other. 

"Who  was  that  handsome  officer  with  John?"  asked  Augusta, 
as  they  drew  back;  "he's  a  perfect  Adonis."  (Augusta  dipped 
surreptitiously  into  Mrs.  Edge's  novels  at  times,  and  a  handsome 
man  in  uniform  was,  of  course,  a  hero  in  her  eyes.) 

"Oh,  Augusta,  how  can  you  talk  of  handsome  officers  at  such 
a  fearful  time?"  remonstrated  Ellen.  "I  think  them  hideous, 
every  one!" 

"But  who  is  he?  Do  you  know  him?"  she  asked,  even  through 
the  tears  drawn  by  the  scenes  she  beheld. 

"Oh,  yes;  know  him?  yes.  He's  a  friend  of  John  Walmsley. 
He's  too  wild  to  please  either  Charlotte  or  me !— Oh,  mother!  I 


THB    MANCHESTER    MAN.  183 

do  wish  father  had  come  home!"  and  Ellen  turned  a  worried 
look  towards  Mrs.  Chadwick,  whose  rigid  face  and  clasped  hands 
betrayed  the  anxiety  which  kept  her  silent. 

Augusta,  though  not  naturally  void  of  feeling,  longed  to  know 
more  of  the  handsome  yeomanry  officer  who  had  so  captivated 
her  young  fancy;  but  that  was  not  the  season  for  such  inquiries, 
and  she  was  conscious  of  it. 

"Hark!  what  is  that?"  burst  from  Mrs.  Chadwick,  some  half- 
hour  later,  as  the  sound  of  feet  was  heard  from  below ;  and 
Ellen,  rushing  to  the  stairs,  came  back  followed  by  her  father 
leaning  on  the  arm  of  a  big  muscular  man,  in  the  blue  and  silver 
uniform  of  the  yeomanry  cavalry,  a  red  cord  down  his  pantaloons, 
hessian  boots,  and,  to  make  assurance  sure,  M.Y.C.  upon  the 
shako  which  his  height  compelled  him  to  doff  ere  he  entered 
the  doorway. 

"Where  is  Jabez  Clegg?"  faltered  Ellen,  as  she  pressed  to  her 
father's  side,  led  him  to  his  chair,  and  placed  his  cushions  to  his 
liking,  Augusta  bringing  a  buffet  on  which  to  rest  his  foot. 

The  stalwart  young  fellow's  eyes  followed  the  attentive 
daughter,  as  he  answered — 

"We  have  left  Jabez  Clegg  at  Mr.  Mabbott's,  Miss  Chadwick," 
with  an  inclination  of  his  head.  "  He  was  afraid  you  would  be 
anxious  for  your  father's  safety,  and  I  offered  to  see  Mr.  Chadwick 
home  in  his  stead." 

Ellen's  black  eyes  expanded  questioning,  and  Mrs.  Chadwick's 
mild  voice,  in  accents  indicative  of  some  fear,  asked — 

"I  hope  not  of  necessity,  sir?" 

"  Well,  yes,  madam  ;  and  I  must  hasten  back ;  he  has  received 
a  sabre-cut  on Eh,  dear!" 

Ben  Travis,  for  he  it  was,  darted  forward  to  catch  Ellen 
Chadwick,  just  as  he  had  previously  caught  Jabez  at  Mabbott's 
gate :— AspinalPs  sabre  had  wounded  two  instead  of  one— Ellen 


184  !THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Chadwick,  who  that  day  had  seen  what  sabre-cuts  meant,  had 
fainted;  Ben  Travis  bore  her  to  the  sofa,  Mr.  Chadwick  pulled 
the  bell-rope,  Augusta  ran  for  water,  Mrs.  Chadwick  called  for 
vinegar  and  burnt  feathers,  and  in  the  midst  of  the  commotion 
Mr.  Ashton  burst  into  the  room  in  a  state  of  excitement  very 
foreign  to  his  nature,  which  was  tolerably  easy-going. 

"  Thank  God,  Augusta,  you  are  here  ! "  he  exclaimed.  "  Your 
mother  is  almost  distracted  about  you — Why,  what  is  the  matter 
with  Ellen  ?  The  whole  world  seems  gone  mad  to  day — or  hell 
has  set  its  demons  loose.  I've  just  seen  our  friend  Captain 
Hindley's  horse  take  fright  in  Mosley  Street  at  the  firing,  and 
dash  with  him  against  those  half-built  houses  at  the  corner  of 
Stable  Street.  He  was  pitched  off  amongst  the  bricks  and 
scaffolding,  and  the  horse  dropped.  Old  Simon  Clegg  happened 
to  be  there,  and  he  helped  me  and  another  to  raise  Hindley, 
who  had  fared  better  than  his  horse,  for  it  was  stone-dead,  and 
he  is  only  badly  hurt." 

He  had  gone  on  talking,  though  hardly  anyone  had  listened 
to  him.  Ellen's  fainting  fit  engrossed  feminine  attention,  and 
the  yeoman,  seeing  her  revive,  was  saying  to  Mr.  Chadwick, 
"You  will  excuse  me  now,  sir.  I  must  look  after  our  poor 
friend  Jabez." 

"  Eh !  what !  Jabez  ?  You  don't  mean  to  say  anything  has 
happened  to  Jabez  Clegg?"  exclaimed  Mr.  Ashton,  pausing  in  the 
act  of  drawing  forth  his  snuff-box. 

Travis  was  gone,  but  Mr.  Chadwick,  whose  tongue  now  was 
none  of  the  readiest,  stammered  out — 

"  Yes,  William,  w-we  le-ft  him  at  Mab-bott  the  confectioner's. 
In  try-ying  to-o  save  me  he  got  b-badly  wounded.  I'm  v-very 
s-sorry,  for  he  is  a  n-noble  y-young  man." 

"The  wretches!  I'd  almost  as  soon  they'd  wounded  me! 
Stay  here,  Augusta ; "  and  with  that  Mr.  Ashton  was  off  after 


THE   MANCHESTER    MAN.  185 

Ben  Travis.  The  main  streets  were  unsafe,  so  he  also  took  the 
back  way,  and  across  Back-Piccadilly  to  Mr.  Mabbott's,  with  a 
celerity  scarcely  to  have  been  expected,  for  he  was  not  a  young 
man.  But  his  apprentice  had  won  upon  him  not  only  by  his 
integrity  and  business  qualifications,  but  by  his  manifest  interest 
in  the  family  he  served,  especially  the  daughter.  Let  me  not  be 
misunderstood.  Augusta  was  the  cynosure  of  Mr.  Ashton's  eyes  ; 
the  homage  of  the  apprentice  to  the  school-girl,  he  estimated  as 
the  homage  of  an  apprentice  merely,  and  was  gratified  thereby, 
but  his  imagination  never  travelled  beyond. 

He  found  Jabez  on  a  chintz-covered  couch  in  Mr.  Mabbott's 
sitting-room,  his  arm  bound  tightly  with  a  towel,  through  which 
the  blood  would  force  its  way.  He  was  pale  and  exhausted 
from  excessive  haemorrhage,  but  seemed  more  concerned  about 
the  fate  of  the  multitude  outside  than  for  his  own. 

Ben  Travis,  discovering  that  no  one  had  dared  to  venture  in 
quest  of  a  doctor,  threw  himself  across  his  horse,  which  he  found 
where  he  had  left  it,  and  was  off  up  Mosley  Street  and  thence 
back  to  Piccadilly,  intent  on  bringing  either  Dr.  Hull  or  Dr.  Hardie. 
His  undform  was  a  protection,  and  so  the  doctors  told  him ; 
Dr.  Hardie  plainly  saying  that  black  cloth  was  not  plate-armour, 
and  that  his  friend,  whosoever  he  might  be,  must  wait  until  the 
tumult  had  somewhat  subsided. 

But  Jabez  was  only  a  couple  of  hours  without  attention.  There 
were  hundreds  wounded  that  day,  who  had  to  skulk  into  holes 
and  corners  to  hide  themselves  and  their  agony  as  best  they 
might,  afraid  of  seeking  surgical  aid,  lest  Nadin  and  his  myrmidons 
should  pounce  upon  them,  and  haul  them  to  prison  as  rebels. 


CHAPTER    THE    TWENTIETH.* 


ACTION     AND     RE-ACTION. 


HE  August  sun  had  looked 
down  in  its  noontide  splen- 
dour when  the  events  I 
have  attempted  to  describe 
took  place ,  but  the  tide  of 
terror  and  destruction  swept 
beyond  the  limits  I  have 
covered,  and  after  the  fierce 
onslaught,  as  if  the  carnage 
had  been  insufficient,  artil- 
lery went  rattling  and  thun- 
dering through  the  streets, 
to  awe  the  peaceful  and 
terrified  inhabitants.  As  the 
flying  crowd,  dispersing,  left  bare  St.  Peter's  Field,  pressing  outward 
and  onwards  through  all  accessible  ramifications,  the  main  thorough- 
fares thinned,  and  the  scene  of  action  took  a  wider  radius. 

Still  the  gallant  hussars  and  yeomanry  went  prancing  through 
these  thoroughfares,  dashing  hither  and  thither,  slashing  at  strag- 
glers, shouting  to  the  rebels,  and  to  each  other,  to  "clear  the 
way";  driving  curious  and  anxious  spectators  from  doors  and 
windows,  and  firing  at  refractory  outstretched  heads. 

*  See  Appendix. 


SHOT    DOWN. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  187 

To  clear  the  streets  more  effectually,  cannon  were  planted  at 
the  entrances  of  the  leading  outlets  from  the  town,  and,  as  if 
that  were  not  enough,  the  artillery  had  orders  to  fire. 

At  New  Cross  two  of  these  guns  (which  went  rattling  up 
Oldham  Street,  to  the  dismay  of  Augusta  and  the  Chadwicks, 
as  well  as  their  neighbours)  were  posted,  one  with  its  hard  iron 
mouth  directed  up  Newton  Lane,  the  other  set  to  sweep  Ancoats 
Lane,  not  then  so  wide  as  at  present. 

Nathaniel  Bradshaw's  butcher's  shop  was  situated  at  the  nar- 
rowest part  of  Ancoats  Lane,  a  little  beyond  the  canal  bridge. 
The  shutters  had  been  closed  precipitately  on  the  first  alarm,  but 
Martha  Bradshaw  and  her  young  brother  Matthew  opened  the 
window  of  the  room  above,  and  had  their  heads  stretched  out 
to  watch  and  question  the  white-faced  people  scurrying  past  in 
disorder,  when  Matt  Cooper,  who  lived  with  his  genial  son-in-law, 
came  hurriedly  home  for  dinner.  His  route  from  the  tannery  lay 
in  a  straight  line  up  Miller's  Lane,  past  Shude  Hill  Pits,  and 
the  New  Cross,  into  Ancoats  Lane,  where  he  crossed  only  just 
before  the  cannon  lumbered  up. 

His  clogs  had  rattled  as  swiftly  over  the  pavement  as  his 
stiffening,  hide-bound,  long  legs  would  carry  them,  and  observing 
the  heads  of  Martha  and  Matthew  advanced  from  the  window, 
he  waved  his  hand  in  gesticulation  for  them  to  withdraw  from  a 
post  so  fraught  with  peril.  But  youth  is  wilful,  and  woman 
curious.  They  either  did  not  understand,  or  did  not  heed  his 
warning.  They  did  not  know  all  he  had  seen  at  New  Cross, 
or  how  narrow  an  escape  he  had  had  from  Aspinall's  flashing 
sabre. 

"Do  goo  in,  childer!"  he  cried,  as  he  drew  near,  "if  yo' 
wantn  to  kep  the  yeads  on  yo'r  shoulders.  Wenches  and  lads 
shouldna  look  on  such  soights." 

"  Han   yo'   seen   Nat  ? "    the   wife   asked,  anxiously. 


i88  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

"  Nawe." 

"  He's  gone  t'  see  what  o'  th*  mob  and  feightin's  abeawt.  Aw 
wish  he  wur  whoam ! " 

Matt  wished  the  same,  but  went  in  at  the  unfastened  door, 
and  passed  on  to  the  room  beyond,  where  he  found  the  untended 
lobscouse  boiling  over  into  the  fire.  He  took  the  lid  off  the 
pot;  then  went  to  the  stair-foot,  and  called  "Martha!" 

There  being  no  answer,  he  strode  back  through  the  shop, 
saying  as  he  went — 

"  Dang  it,  hoo'll  not  be  content  till  hoo's  hurt ! " 

He  stepped  out  on  the  rough  pavement,  and,  looking  up, 
called  out — 

"  Do  put  yo'r  yeads  in  ;    yo'll " 

A  musket-shot,  splintering  a  corner  of  the  stone  window-sill 
on  which  they  leaned,  was  more  effective  than  his  adjuration. 
The  cannon  boomed  simultaneously — a  shriek  recalled  the  hastily- 
withdrawn  heads;  and  there,  on  the  rough,  sun-baked  ground 
before  their  eyes,  lay  weltering  in  blood,  a  doubled-up  form, 
which  a  minute  before  had  been  their  father,  Matt  Cooper  the 
tanner,  the  preserver  of  Jabez,  the  friend  of  Simon  and 
Bess. 

This  harrowing  event  was  the  last  of  the  painful  incidents 
of  that  fatal  day  coming  within  the  scope  of  this  history,  which, 
isolated  as  they  are,  the  writer  knows  to  be  true,  even  though 
they  may  not  be  chronicled  elsewhere. 

The  streets  grew  silent  and  deserted,  save  by  the  military 
and  medical  men,  as  the  day  and  the  night  advanced ;  but 
within  the  houses  of  poor  and  rich  there  were  loud  complaints 
and  groans,  and  murmurings,  which  did  not  sink  to  silence  with 
the  day  that  called  them  forth. 

The  town  was,  as  it  were,  in  a  state  of  siege ;  and  men  of 
business,  whether  Tories  or  Radicals,  alike  felt  the  stoppage  of 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  189 

trade  and  commerce  in  their  pockets,  whether  they  felt  the  cruelty 
and  injustice  to  the  injured  in  their  hearts  or  not. 

But  chiefly  those  who  had  friends  wounded  by  design  or 
accident  in  the  melee  were  loud  in  their  denunciation  of  the  whole 
proceedings  ;  and  of  these  neither  Mr.  Chadwick  nor  Mr.  Ashton 
was  the  least  prominent,  even  though  the  one  was  paralysed,  and 
they  were  of  contrary  shades  of  politics,  the  former  being  what  he 
himself  called  "a  staunch  and  true  out-and-out  Tory,"  the  latter 
having  a  leaning  towards  Liberal — not  to  say  Radical — opinions, 
and  at  county  elections  voting  with  the  Whigs. 

The  stiff  •'  Church  and  King "  man,  whose  sons  had  dis- 
tinguished themselves  in  the  Army  and  Navy,  and  whose  son- 
in-law,  Walmsley,  might  also  be  said  to  have  distinguished  himselt 
in  the  loyal  Manchester  Yeomanry — he  who  had  been  a  member 
of  John  Shaw's  Club  in  the  Market  Place,  and  called  for  his 
P.  or  his  Q.  bowl  of  punch  even  before  the  aroma  of  Jacobitism 
ceased  to  flavour  the  delectable  compound,  and  while  yet  John 
Shaw  himself  lived  to  draw  his  silver  spoon  from  its  particular 
pocket  to  concoct  the  same,  and  (inexorable  autocract  that  he 
was)  could  crack  his  whip  in  his  poky  bar-parlour  in  the  ears 
of  even  noble  customers  who  lingered  after  his  imperative  "  Eight 
o'clock,  gentlemen  ;  eight  o'clock ! "  or  summon  his  sturdy  factotum 
Molly,  with  mop  and  pail,  to  drive  thence  with  wetted  feet 
those  whom  the  whip  had  failed  to  influence — he  who  had  stuck 
to  the  club  even  after  John  Shaw,  Molly,  and  the  punch-house 
itself  had  gone  to  the  dust — he,  Charles  Chadwick,  whose  Toryism 
had  grown  with  his  growth,  was  foremost  in  condemning  the 
proceedings  of  Peterloo. 

In  his  own  person  he  had  witnessed  how  the  actual  breakers 
of  the  peace  were  those  commissioned  to  preserve  it.  In  the 
wanton  attack  on  himself,  an  unarmed,  defenceless,  disabled  old 
man,  he  recognised  the  general  characteristics  of  the  whole  affair, 


igo  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

and  entered  his  protest  against  so  lawless  an  exposition  of  the 
law.  He  was  himself  a  peaceable  man,  a  loyal  subject,  going 
quietly  about  his  own  business  when  Jabez  intercepted,  to  his 
own  hurt,  the  sabre  destined  for  his  grey  head ;  Matthew  Cooper, 
his  tenant's  father-in-law,  was  as  peaceable  and  well-disposed  ; 
and,  if  so,  might  not  the  bulk  of  the  so-called  rebels  have  been 
the  same  ?  In  his  gratitude  to  Jabez  he  denounced  the  mounted 
yeoman  who  had  sabred  him  as  "  a  drunken,  blood-thirsty 
miscreant,"  though  in  the  hurry,  excitement,  and  agitation 
attending  his  own  withdrawal  from  the  press  by  Mr.  Mabbott, 
he  had  failed  to  identify  his  pursuer  with  John  Walmsley's 
dashing  friend,  and  the  exclamation  of  Ben  Travis  had  not 
reached  his  ear  in  the  confusion. 

Easy-going  Mr.  Ashton  also  seemed  transformed  by  the  event. 
He  had  certainly  lost  the  valuable  services  of  his  apprentice  for 
some  time  to  come ;  but  that  was  the  very  least  ingredient  in 
the  cup  of  his  wrath.  By  faithful,  intelligent  service ;  by  per- 
severing industry,  by  a  thousand  little  actions  which  had  shown 
his  interest  in  his  employers,  and  his  devotion  to  his  old  friends, 
Jabez  had.  won  a  place  in  his  master's  esteem  and  affection  no 
other  apprentice  of  any  grade  had  ever  attained. 

And  now  that  Jabez  had  risked  the  dangers  of  the  soldier- 
ridden  streets  to  bear  his  beloved  daughter  to  a  place  of  safety, 
and  had  braved  the  storm  of  foot  and  horse,  and  fire  and  steel, 
to  rescue  his  brother-in-law  by  endangering  his  own  life  or  limbs, 
his  admiration  and  gratitude  rose  to  their  highest,  and  in 
proportion  his  denunciation  of  an  outrage  which  called  for  such 
a  sacrifice  was  strong  and  vehement — all  the  more  that  he 
sympathised  with  the  objects  of  the  meeting. 

When  he  and  Simon  Clegg  (who  had  been  drawn  to  the 
scene  in  his  dinner-hour  with  others,  like  moths  to  a  candle) 
picked  up  his  cavalry  friend,  Robert  Hindley,  from  amongst  the 


J.-l 


•m  nis 


STAR    INN. 


THE   MANCHESTER   MAN.  19I 

building  materials,  and  disengaged  him  from  his  dead  horse,  he 
could  not  refrain  from  telling  the  disabled  warrior,  with  all  a 
friend's  frankness,  that  "  it  served  him  right ! " 

Open  expression  of  private  opinion  on  the  conduct  of  rulers 
was  dangerous  at  that  period,  as  may  be  supposed  ;  but  private 
opinion  became  public  opinion,  too  strong  and  too  universal  to 
be  put  in  fetters. 

Mr.  Tyas,  the  Times  reporter,  had  been  taken  prisoner  on 
the  hustings,  and  it  was  imagined  that  only  a  one-sided  account — 
forwarded  by  the  magistracy  in  justification  of  their  conduct — 
would  reach  London.  But  other  intelligent  reporters  were  at 
large,  the  garbled  statements  sent  to  the  Government  press  were 
confuted  by  the  truth-telling  narratives  of  Messrs.  Archibald 
Prentice  and  John  Edward  Taylor,  which  appeared  the  following 
day,  and  roused  the  indignation  of  the  realm.  These  statements 
being  more  than  substantiated  by  the  Times  reporter  on  his 
liberation,  national  indignation  rose  to  a  ferment. 

This  alarmed  the  Manchester  magistrates ;  a  meeting  was 
hurriedly  arranged  to  take  place  on  Thursday,  the  igth  (the  third 
day  from  Peterloo),  at  the  Police  Station  ;  thence  adjourned  to 
the  "  Star  Inn "  in  Deansgate ;  and,  as  though  the  meeting  had 
been  a  public  one,  resolutions  were  passed  thanking  magistrates 
and  soldiers  for  their  services  on  the  previous  Monday. 

Then  Manchester  rose,  as  it  were,  en  masse,  to  vindicate  its 
own  honour,  and  reject  participation  in  a  disgraceful  deed. 

"A  declaration,"  says  one  historian,  "was  issued,  protesting 
against  the  'Star  Inn'  resolutions,  which,  in  the  course  of  two  or 
three  days,  received  close  upon  five  thousand  signatures,"  in 
obtaining  which  none  were  more  active  than  Mr.  Ashton  and 
(despite  his  paralysis)  Mr.  Chadwick.  Old  Mrs.  Clowes  talked 
her  customers  into  signing,  and  Parson  Brookes  was  not  idle.  Mr. 
William  Clough,  whose  old  servant  Matthew  Cooper  had  been  shot 


192  THE   MANCHESTER    MAN. 

down  at  his  own  door,  gave  the  tanners  a  holiday,  that  they  might 
influence  their  fellows ;  and  Simon  Clegg,  Tom  Hulme,  and 
Nathaniel  Bradshaw  seemed  ubiquitous,  they  went  to  work  with 
such  determined  zeal.  They  did  not  feel  "  thankful "  to  the 
magistrates  for  the  blood  shed  on  Peterloo  Monday. 

Neither  did  the  bulk  of  the  inhabitants;  and  an  energetic 
protest  against  the  proceedings  and  representations  of  the  magistracy 
was  the  result. 

To  counteract  this,  the  Prince  Regent,  through  his  mouthpiece, 
Lord  Sidmouth,  sent  his  thanks  to  the  magistrates  and  the  military 
leaders  for  "their  prompt,  decisive,  and  efficient  measures."  But 
this,  instead  of  calming,  lashed  the  public  mind  to  frenzy. 
Meetings  to  remonstrate  with  the  Regent  and  to  petition  for 
inquiry  were  held  in  all  the  large  towns,  Sir  Francis  Burdett 
presiding  at  one  held  in  Westminster. 

Subscriptions  were  also  got  up  for  the  relief  of  such  wounded 
and  disabled  persons  as  had  crept  into  holes  and  corners  to  hide 
themselves  and  their  wounds  from  Nadin  and  his  constabulary; 
and  here,  too,  William  Ashton  and  William  Clough  worked 
hand-in-hand  to  bring  relief  to  sufferers  not  in  the  Infirmary ;  and 
Parson  Brookes,  to  the  disgust  of  some  of  his  clerical  brethren, 
lent  his  aid  in  ferreting  out  the  miserables,  if  he  did  not 
ostentatiously  flourish  his  subscription  in  their  service ;  and  I 
rather  think  a  certain  "  J.  S."  in  the  subscription  list  represented 
the  mite  of  the  Grammar  School  head-master,  but  I  could  not 
take  an  affidavit  on  the  subject.  But  when  the  wounded,  as  far 
as  ascertained,  amounted  to  six  hundred,  irrespective  of  the  killed, 
subscriptions  had  need  to  be  many  and  ample. 

Another  token  of  the  change  in  public  sentiment  was 
shown  in  the  satires  and  pasquinades  which  appeared  on  the 
walls,  or  were  distributed  from  hand  to  hand.  Previously  to 
Peterloo  a  set  of  anonymous  verses  in  ridicule  of  the  popular 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  jg* 

leader  had   been   distributed.       They   began   and   were    headed   as 
follows : — 

ORATOR    HUNT. 


i. 

Blithe  Harry  Hunt  was  an  orator  bold  — 

Talked  away  bravely  and  blunt ; 
And  Rome  in  her  glory,  and  Athens  of  old, 
With  all  their  loud  talkers,  of  whom  we  are  told, 

Couldn't  match  Orator  Hunt ! 

II. 

Blithe  Harry  Hunt  was  a  sightly  man- 
Something  'twixt  giant  and  runt ; 
His  paunch  was  a  large  one,  his  visage  was  wan, 
And  to  hear  his  long  speeches  vast  multitudes  ran, 
O  rare  Orator  Hunt  ! 


VI. 

Orator  Hunt  was  the  man  for  a  riot  — 

Bully  in  language  and  front — 

And  thought  when  a  nation  had  troubles  to  sigh  at, 
'Twas  quite  unbecoming  to  sit  cool  and  quiet, 

0  rare  Orator  Hunt ! 


VIII. 

How  Orator  Hunt's  many  speeches  will  close  - 

Tedious,  bombastic,  and  blunt— 
In  a  halter  or  diadem,  God  only  knows  : 
The  sequel  might  well  an  arch-conjurer  pose. 

O  rare  Orator  Hunt  ! 

Sufficient  has  been  given  to  show  the  nature  of  the  lampoon 
without  repeating  its  scurrility.  The  following,  of  which  we 
only  quote  the  first  two  stanzas,  is  of  pretty  much  the  same 
order,  though  emanating  from  the  other  side,  and  after  terrible 
provocation  had  been  given  : — 


194  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

THE    RENOWNED    ATCHIEVEMENTS    OF   PETERLOO, 
ON  THE  GLORIOUS  i6TH  OF  AUGUST,   1819. 

BY  SIR  HUGO  BURLO  FURIOSO  DI  MULO  SPINNISSIMO,  Bart., 
M.Y.C.  AND  A.S.S. 

The  music  by  the  celebrated  DR.  HORSEFOOD  ;  to  be  had  at  the  "  Cat  and  Bagpipes?' 
St.  Mary's  Gate,  Manchester. 

RECITATIVE. 

When  fell  sedition's  stalking  through  the  land, 
It  then  behoves  each  patriotic  band 

OF  NOBLE-MINDED  YEOMAN  CAVALIERS 
To  sally  forth  and  rush  upon  the  mob, 
And  execute  the  MAGISTERIAL  JOB 

Of  cutting  off  the  ragamuffins'  ears. 

AKIA   BRAVURA. 

Forte.          How  valiantly  we  met  that  crew 
Of  infants,  men,  and  women  too, 
Upon  the  plain  of  Peterloo: 
And  gloriously  did  hack  and  hew 

The  d d  reforming  gang. 

Our  swords  were  sharp,  you  may  suppose, 
Some  lost  their  ears — some  lost  a  nose  ; 
Our  horses  trod  upon  their  toes 
Ere  they  could  run  t'  escape  our  blows : 

With  shouts  the  welkin  rang. 
Andante.     So  keen  were  we  to  rout  these  swine, 
Whole  shoals  of  constables  in  line 
We  galloped  o'er  in  style  so  fine, 
By  orders  of  the  SAPIENT  NINE — 

First  friends,  then  foes,  laid  flat. 
By  Richardson's  best  grinding  skill 
Our  blades  were  set  with  right  good  will, 
That  we  these  rogues  might  bleed  or  kill, 
And  "  give  them  of  Reform  their  fill  ! " 

And  what  d'ye  think  of  that? 

And   so  on  the   satire  ran,  in  mock-bravura  style,  through  the 
whole  course  of  piano,  sotto  voce,  pianissima-mento,  and  con  baldanza, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


'95 


with  foot-notes  to  strengthen  or  elucidate  the  text.  And  that  the 
writer  remained  undiscovered  and  unprosecuted  spoke  loudly  for 
the  re-action  which  had  taken  place  in  men's  minds. 


CHAPTER    THE    TWENTY-FIRST. 

WOUNDED. 

T  the  extreme  end  of  Mr.  Mabbott's  long  double- 
countered  shop  was  an  expansive  archway,  closed  in 
general  by  folding  doors,  through  which  entrance 
was  afforded  to  a  narrow  sitting-room,  the  length  of 
which  was  just  by  so  much  less  than  the  width  of  the  shop  as 
was  required  for  a  passage  and  staircase.  Once  a  year  the  open 
archway  revealed  a  shimmering  mass  of  snowy  sugar-work,  the 
towers  and  turrets  of  a  castle  on  a  rock,  or  the  illuminated 
windows  of  a  magnificent  palace,  fit  for  any  princess  of  fairyland, 
with  pleasure-gardens  and  lake,  or  fountain  and  pond,  wherein 
stately  swans  floated,  and  were  overlooked  by  dames  and  cavaliers 
created  by  the  confectioner  and  his  satellites. 

For  the  fifty  other  weeks  it  was  simply  a  snug  parlour, 
comfortably  furnished  according  to  the  fashion  of  the  time. 

And  it  was  in  this  room  we  left  Jabez,  whilst  good-natured 
Ben  Travis,  leaving  his  more  patriotic  comrades  to  "hack  and 
hew"  at  their  pleasure,  galloped  hither  and  thither  in  search  of 
a  surgeon  to  dress  the  wounded  arm. 

Every  doctor  in  the  Infirmary  had  his  hands  full ;  Dr.  Hull, 
from  his  windows  in  Mosley  Street,  and  Dr.  Hardie  from  his  in 
Piccadilly,  had  been  satisfied  that  if  they  ventured  forth  they 
might  soon  need  doctoring  themselves — and  they  both  pleaded 
"medical  etiquette"  in  excuse  for  their  lukewarmness.  They  were 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  197 

"physicians,  not  surgeons."  He  bethought  himself  of  Mr.  Huertley, 
in  Oldham  Street,  but  even  he  had  more  than  one  wounded 
patient  in  his  surgery,  and  was  loth  to  encounter  the  danger 
outside.  Ben  Travis,  however,  would  take  no  denial.  He  waited 
until  sundry  gaping  wounds  were  closed,  cuts  plaistered  and 
bandaged,  a  broken  limb  set,  and  a  bullet  extracted,  even  lending 
a  hand  himself  where  unskilled  help  could  be  available,  being  less 
bemused  with  liquor  than  many  of  his  cavalry  corps.  Then, 
although  they  were  almost  within  a  stone's  throw  of  their  des- 
tination— as  Oldham  Street  was  not  safe  for  a  civilian  to  cross 
on  foot,  with  loaded  cannon  in  such  close  proximity — Travis 
mounted  the  surgeon  behind  him,  the  latter  not  sorry  to  have 
the  yeoman's  capacious  body  in  its  conspicuous  uniform  for  a 
shield,  as  they  dashed  across  into  Back-Piccadilly  to  Mabbott's 
back  door. 

Ere  they  rode  off  the  younger  man  cast  a  sharp  glance  of 
scrutiny  at  Chadwick's  drawing-room  windows,  and  bowed  low 
in  recognition  of  the  face  for  which  he  was  looking — the  face  he 
had  seen  so  pale  and  pitiful,  bending  over  an  afflicted  father,  and 
so  shocked  to  hear  of  even  an  apprentice  wounded  in  that  father's 
behalf. 

Ben  Travis  had  a  big  body  and  a  big  heart,  but  he  had  little 
knowledge  of  the  hearts  of  womankind,  or  he  might  have  found 
another  solution  for  Ellen  Chadwick's  fainting  fit.  He  did  not 
know  how  she  had  trembled  for  another  on  seeing  him  dismount 
at  Mr.  Huertley 's  door,  nor  how  she  had  watched,  too  sick  and  sad 
to  descend  to  the  dining-room,  when  the  spoiled  dinner  was  at 
length  set  on  the  table— watched  eagerly  and  anxiously,  her  heart's 
pulsations  counting  each  second  a  minute,  as  hours  elapsed 
before  she  saw  them  mount  and  ride  away,  and  noted  the  direction 
they  took.  And  she  saw  no  admiration  in  the  low  bow  of  the 
fine  soldierly  young  gentleman— only  the  polite  salutation  of  a 


igS  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

stranger  introduced  casually  by  the  untoward  events  of  the  day, 
albeit,  having  rendered  her  father  a  service,  and  professed  himself 
the  friend  of  Jabez,  she  was  bound  to  recognise  him  as  he  passed. 

To  Jabez  himself,  lying  faint  and  exhausted  with  loss  of  blood 
on  kind  Mr.  Mabbott's  chintz-covered  squab-sofa,  everything  was  a 
haze,  and  the  people  around  him  little  more  than  voices.  He  was 
perfectly  conscious  when  Mr.  Mabbott  hastily  cut  away  the  sleeve 
of  his  jacket,  and  bound  the  wounded  arm  as  tightly  as  towels 
could  bind.  When  Mr.  Ashton  put  his  troubled  face  into  the  con- 
fectioner's small  parlour,  Mr.  Mabbott  was  in  the  act  of  reaching 
from  a  corner-cupboard  a  small  square  spirit  decanter,  and  an 
engraved  wine-glass,  in  order  to  administer  a  dose  of  brandy  to 
the  young  man,  then  rapidly  sinking  into  unconsciousness. 

Under  its  influence  he  revived  for  awhile ;  but,  as  the  blood 
gradually  soaked  through  the  towelling,  he  grew  fainter,  in  spite 
of  brandy,  and  by  the  time  Ben  Travis  (who  had  surely  kept  the 
promise  made  in  school-boy  days)  brought  Dr.  Huertley  to  his  aid, 
he  had  lapsed  into  a  stupor  from  which  the  manipulations  of  the 
surgeon  barely  aroused  him. 

"You  should  have  tied  a  ligature  tightly  as  possible  round  the 
arm  above  the  wound,  first  thing,"  said  the  surgeon,  addressing 
those  around  him — "  a  bit  of  tape,  a  strip  of  linen,  a  garter — any- 
thing narrow  to  stop  the  haemorrhage.  Had  this  been  done,  there 
would  have  been  less  effusion  of  blood,  and  our  patient  would  not 
have  been  so  utterly  prostrated." 

"Just  so,  just  so,"  assented  Mr.  Ashton,  adding,  "but  Mr.  Mabbott 
had " 

"Done  his  best — no  doubt,"  interrupted  the  surgeon,  "or  our 
young  friend  might  have  bled  to  death.  But  the  tight,  narrow 
ligature  would  have  been  better ;  and  many  a  valuable  life  may 
have  been  saved  or  lost  this  day  through  that  bit  of  knowledge 
or — the  want  of  it." 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  199 

Mr.  Ashton's  "  Just  so,  just  so  ;  I  daresay  you  are  right,"  was 
followed  up  by  "  Shall  we  be  able  to  remove  him  to-night,  Mr. 
Huertley?  He  is  my  apprentice,  and  has  been  injured  whilst 
bravely  protecting  your  opposite  neighbour,  Mr.  Chadwick,  my 
brother-in-law.  I  should  like  to  get  him  home,  to  be  under  Mrs. 
Ashton's  care,  as  well  as  to  relieve  Mr.  Mabbott,  to  whom,  I  am 
sure,  we  all  feel  greatly  indebted." 

"  Don't  name  it,  I  beg ;  at  fearful  times  like  this,"  said  Mr. 
Mabbott,  with  a  shudder,  "it  does  not  do  to  think  of  trouble  or  of 
ceremony.  But  I  do  not  imagine  the  doctor  would  counsel  the 
young  man's  removal  to-night,  even  if  the  road  were  clear  and 
safe." 

"Certainly  not,"  replied  Mr.  Huertley,  as  he  packed  up  his  lint 
and  instruments.  "  And  in  my  opinion,  if  you  remove  him  to-morrow 
you  must  do  it  carefully  on  every  account,  and  will  have  to  smuggle 
him  away  in  a  hackney-coach,  lest  he  should  be  pounced  upon  as 
a  wounded  rebel." 

Two  days,  however,  elapsed  before  Mr.  Mabbott's  sofa  lost  its 
occupant,  and  even  then  the  strong  arm  of  Tom  Hulme  and  the 
loving  care  of  Bess  were  needed  to  help  Jabez,  feeble  and  wan, 
to  the  hackney-carriage  brought  up  to  the  back  door,  which  bore 
him  slowly  away,  avoiding  the  main  streets  until  they  passed 
under  the  arched  gateway  in  Back  Mosley  Street,  whence  he  had 
last  emerged  at  a  headlong  pace  to  prevent  Miss  Augusta  getting 
into  danger. 

Some  remembrance  of  this  flashed  through  the  brain  of  Jabez 
as  the  coach  stopped  in  the  courtyard,  and  on  the  house  doorsteps 
he  beheld  Mrs.  Ashton,  Augusta,  and  Ellen  Chadwick,  all  three 
waiting  to  receive  him  as  if  had  been  a  wounded  relative  returning 
from  far-off  victories  to  his  own  hearth.  Nay,  the  very  servants 
hovered  in  the  background,  even  cross  Kezia  pressing  to  have  a 
first  look  at  him. 


300  TEE    MANCHESTER    MAM. 

Mrs.  Ashton  herseifi  with  the  graceful  dignity  which  sat  so 
well  upon  her,  went  down  the  steps  to  lead  him  op  and  into 
the  boose,  and,  as  she  touched  his  left  hand  and  unwounded 
arm,  sae  said  impressively, 

"Jabez  Clegg,  I  understand  we  owe  our  brother's  life  to  TOOT 
self-abnegation,  if  not  that  of  our  daughter  aba  I  icgiel  that 
your  noble  intervention  should  have  cost  you  so  dear;  but  I 
thank  you  most  truly,  and  shall  not  forget  U." 

The  stately  lady's  eyes  were  humid  as  she  led  Jabez  into  their 
common  parlour  (the  room  in  which  Augusta  had  displayed  his 
specimens  of  incipient  artistryX  and  there  placed  him  on  the 
large  soft  sofa,  already  prepared  with  pillows  for  his  reception. 
The  attention  touched  him  to  the  heart ;  the  humble  apprentice, 
feeling  himself  honoured,  raised  the  lady's  hand  to  his  lips  as 
gracefully  and  reverently  as  ever  did  knight  of  old  romance. 

And  then  he  would  have  closed  his  eyes  for  very  weariness ; 
but  a  little  soft,  warm  hand  stole  into  his  feeble  one,  and,  thrilling 
through  him,  a  faint  tinge  chased  the  deathly  pallor  from  his 
face  as  Augusta's  voice,  full  of  commiseration,  said  apologetically, 
*  I  had  no  idea,  Jabez,  that  I  was  sending  you  into  danger  when 
I  asked  you  to  look  for  Uncle  Chadwick;  I  am  so  sorry  yon 
have  been  hurt" 

He  held  the  little  hand  of  his  master's  daughter  for  one  or 
two  delicious  minutes,  while  he  answered  feebly,  "Never  mind, 
Miss  Ashton  ;  I  was  only  too  glad  to  be  there  in  time ; "  and 
lapsed  into  so  ethereal  a  dream  as  he  released  it,  that  the  low, 
broken,  grateful  thanks  of  Ellen  Chadwick  left  but  the  impression 
on  his  mind  that  she  was  very  much  in  earnest,  and  had  called 
him  Mr.  CUgg. 

Mr.  Clegg:  When  had  the  College-boy— the  Blue-coat 
apprentice — been  anything  but  Jabez  Clegg?  Mr.  Clegg!  It 
was  from  such  lips  social  recognition,  and  so  blent  strangely  with 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  201 

his  dream.  Ah!  could  he  but  have  known  how  much  of  latent 
tenderness  was  embodied  in  those  incoherent  expressions  of  a 
daughter's  gratitude,  or  that  the  speaker  dared  not  trust  her 
faltering  tongue  with  his  Christian  name ! 

Mrs.  Ashton  called  the  young  ladies  away. 

"My  dears,  you  had  better  resume  your  occupations,  and  leave 
Jabez  to  repose ;  it  is  not  well  to  crowd  about  an  invalid  on  so 
sultry  a  day  as  this." 

So  Miss  Chad  wick  went,  with  her  tatting-shuttle,  back  to  her 
seat  by  the  one  window  where  the  friendly  shade  of  the  dove- 
coloured  curtains  screened  from  observation  any  glances  which 
might  chance  to  stray  from  the  tatting  to  the  sofa;  and  Miss 
Ashton  went  back  to  her  music-stool,  where  the  sunbeams,  falling 
through  the  other  window,  lit  up  her  lovely  profile,  shot  a  glint  of 
gold  through  her  hair,  and  showed  the  dimples  in  her  white 
shoulder  to  the  half-shut,  dreaming  eyes  of  Jabez,  who  listened, 
entranced,  as  she  practised  scales  and  battle-pieces,  waltzes  and 
quadrilles,  totally  unconscious  that  she  was  feeding  a  fever  in  the 
soul  of  the  apprentice  more  to  be  feared  than  the  stroke  of 
AspinalTs  sabre,  though  it  had  cut  into  the  bone. 

Not  that  she  was  a  simple  school-girl,  and  ignorant  of  the 
power  of  beauty.  She  was  pretty  well  as  romantic  as  any  girl 
of  that  romantic  age  who,  being  fifteen,  looked  a  year  older,  and 
learned  the  art  of  fascination  from  the  four-volume  novels  of 
the  period.  Mrs.  Ashton  herself  subscribed  to  the  fashionable 
circulating  library  of  the  town,  but  she  was  somewhat  choice  in 
her  reading,  and  had  Miss  Augusta  stopped  where  her  mother  did 
she  would  have  done  welL  But  it  so  happened  that,  after  feasting 
on  the  wholesome  peas  her  mother  provided,  she  fell  with  avidity 
on  husks  obtained  surreptitiously  elsewhere.  Kisses  from  Augusta 
could  always  coax  coins  from  papa,  and  as  a  Miss  Bohanna  kept 
open  a  well-known,  well-stocked  circulating  library  in  Shudehill, 


202  THE     MANCHESTER     MAN. 

albeit  in  a  cellar,  its  contiguity  to  Bradshaw  Street  and 
Mrs.  Broadbent's  enabled  Miss  Ashton  (or  Cicely  for  her)  to 
smuggle  in  amongst  her  school-books  ether  fictions,  such  as 
Elizabeth  Helme  and  Anna  Maria  Roche  used  to  concoct, 
and  Samuel  Richardson  provided,  to  delight  our  grandmothers 
with. 

So  Miss  Ashton  was  quite  prepared  to  be  admired  and  play 
the  heroine  prematurely ;  but  she  had  been  reared  in  the  same 
house  with  Jabez,  had  been  caressed  and  waited  upon  by  him 
as  a  child,  and  anything  so  absurd  as  her  father's  apprentice 
falling  in  love  with  her  had  never  dawned  upon  her  apprehension. 
Then  not  even  his  wounded  arm  could  make  him  handsome 
enough  for  a  hero,  so  she  plunged  through  the  "  Battle  of 
Prague,"  and  "  Lodoiska,"  and  glided  into  the  "  Copenhagen 
Waltz,"  with  no  suspicion  of  a  listener  more  than  ordinary. 

Mrs.  Ashton,  who  was  back-stitching  a  shirt-wristband  (family 
linen  was  then  made  at  home),  imagined  that  Jabez  was  dozing, 
and,  unwilling  to  disturb  him,  only  spoke  when  a  false  note,  or 
a  passage  out  of  time,  called  for  a  low-voiced  hint  to  her 
daughter,  or  when  she  found  occasion  to  make  some  slight 
observation  to  the  equally  silent  Ellen. 

Presently  the  clock  in  the  hall  proclaimed  "  five."  Miss 
Ashton  closed  music-books  and  piano  ;  Miss  Chadwick  completed 
a  loop,  then  put  her  tatting  away  in  a  small,  oblong,  red 
morocco  reticule ;  Mrs.  Ashton  laid  the  wristband  in  her  work- 
basket,  which  she  put  out  of  sight  in  a  panelled  cupboard 
within  the  wall,  sheathed  the  scissors  hanging  from  her  girdle, 
and  folded  up  the  leather  housewife  containing  her  cut  skeins  of 
thread,  &c.  James  brought  in  the  tea-board,  with  its  genuine 
China  tea-service,  plates  with  cake  and  bread-and-butter,  and 
whilst  he  went  back  to  Kezia  for  the  tea-urn,  in  walked  Mr. 
Ashton,  and  with  him  the  Reverend  Joshua  Brookes. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


203 


One  might  have  supposed  his  first  salutation  would  have 
been  to  the  lady  of  the  house.  Nothing  of  the  kind !  With 
a  passing  nod  to  Mrs.  Ashton,  who  had  extended  her  hand, 
he  marched  straight  to  the  sofa,  and  greeted  its  occupant 
with 

"Well,  young  Cheat-the-fishes,  so  you've  been  in  the  wars 
again?" 

"Yes,   sir,"  said   Jabez,  attempting  to   rise. 

"  Lie  still,  lad !  And  so  you  thought  a  velveteen  jacket 
defensive  armour  against  sharpened  steel  ? " 

"  I   never  thought  about  it,   sir." 

"  Ugh !  Then  I  suppose  you  reckoned  a  young  man's  arm 
worth  less  than  an  old  man's  head !  Eh  ? " 

Jabez   smiled. 

"Certainly,  sir." 

"  Humph !  I  thought  as  much ! "  Then  darting  a  keen 
inquisitive  glance  from  under  his  shaggy  eyebrows  at  the  prostrate 
young  fellow,  he  added,  in  his  very  raspiest  tones,  "And  I 
daresay  you've  no  notion  whose  sabre  carved  the  wing  of  the 
goose  so  cleverly  ?  " 

What  little  blood  was  left  in  his  body  seemed  to  mount  to 
the  face  of  Jabez,  the  old  scar  on  his  brow — which  every  year 
made  less  conspicuous — purpled  and  grew  livid.  Old  Joshua 
needed  no  more. 

"  Ah,  I  see  you  do !  Well,  are  you  inclined  to  forgive  the 
fellow  this  time  ?  " 

All  ears  were   on   the   alert.     Jabez  caught  the  quick   turn   of 
his   kind   master's   head.     He   hesitated,   paled,   and   flushed   again. 
Joshua  Brookes  waited.    There   was  some  indecision  in  the  reply 
when   it   did   come. 

"  I  am  not  sure,  sir.  But  he  was  very  drunk.  I  don't  think 
he  would  have  done  it  if  he  had  been  sober." 


204 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


"Just  so,  Jabez — just  so!"  assented  Mr.  Ashton  with  evident 
satisfaction,  and  a  tap  on  his  snuff-box  lid. 

Ben  Travis  had  revealed  the  name  of  Mr.  Chadwick's  assailant 
to  the  manufacturer,  and  he  to  the  chaplain. 

"  Oh !  that's  your  opinion,  is  it  ? "  cried  the  latter,  crustily, 
wheeling  sharply  round  to  disguise  a  smile.  "  Here,  madam, 
let's  have  a  cup  of  sober  tea  after  that ! " 

"  I  think,  Mr.  Brookes,"  said  Mrs.  Ashton,  as  she  seated 
herself,  "with  all  due  deference  to  you — I  think  you  ask  too 
much  from  Jabez.  I  do  not  consider  drunkenness  any  excuse 
for  brutality." 

"  No  excuse  for  the  brute,  madam,  certainly ;  but  a  reason 
why  a  reasoning  man  should  forgive  the  brute  incapable  ot 
reason." 

"  Just  so,  Parson  ! "  chimed  in  Mr.  Ashton,  laying  his  Barcelona 
handkerchief  across  his  knee. 

"  I  don't  see  it,  sir,"  argued  Mrs.  Ashton,  handing  a  willow- 
patterned  cup  and  saucer,  with  his  tea,  to  her  interlocutor ;  "  a 
man  who  is  a  brute  when  intoxicated  should  keep  sober.  For  my 
own  part,  I  should  be  loth  to  let  the  same  stick  beat  me  twice. 
Our  apprentice  has  borne  quite  too  much  from  that  fellow " 
(she  waxed  indignant),  "and  there  is  a  limit  to  forgiveness." 

"  Yes,  madam,"  answered  the  Parson  snappishly,  "  there  is  a 
limit  to  forgiveness ;  but  the  limit  is  '  not  seven  times,  but 
seventy  times  seven ! ' " 

There  was  no  more  to  be  said.  The  rough  chaplain  spoke 
with  authority,  and  from  experience,  and  Jabez  knew  it. 


CHAPTER    THE    TWENTY-SECOND. 

MR.     CLEGG ! 

OWEVER  grateful  Mrs.  Ashton 
might  be  she  never  lost  sight 
of  her  personal  dignity,  and 
had  no  idea  of  admitting 
Jabez  on  terms  of  equality 
after  that  first  reception. 

In    his    helpless    condition 
he    required    attention,    which 
she    could   not  condescend    to 
render  personally;  yet  she  was 
as  little  inclined  to  delegate  the 
duty  to  Kezia,  who  was  never 
over  well-disposed  towards  him, 
and   might  have  resented   the 
call  to   "wait    on    a    'prentice 
lad,"    or   to    Cicily,    who    was 
too  young  to   have  the  run  ot   a    young  man's  chamber.      It  was 
like   herself  to  hit  on   a  happy   mean,    and  invite  Bess    Hulme  at 
once  to  satisfy   her  own   longings,  and    meet  the   requirements   of 
the    case,     by    waiting    on     her    foster-child    in    his    helplessness, 
bringing    with    her    her    own    boy,     now   two    years    old,    to    be 
committed    to  willing  Cicily's    care  when    the    mother  was  herself 
engaged. 


HOUSE  OF  JOSHUA  BROOKES. 


206  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Yet  the  apprentice  never  again  sank  into  the  old  ruts.  His  bed 
in  the  attic  was  turned  over  to  his  successor.  From  that  parlour 
where  he  had  lain  and  listened  to  Augusta's  music,  and  Parson 
Brookes'  dictum  ;  where  Mrs.  Ashton  had  placed  his  pillows,  and 
Ellen  Chadwick  had  supplied  his  wants  with  such  intuitive  perception 
at  tea-time;  from  that  room  he  went  to  a  chamber  on  an  upper 
floor,  furnished  neatly  but  plainly,  with  due  regard  to  comfort. 

There  was  a  mahogany  camp-bedstead,  draped  with  chintz  of 
most  extraordinary  device.  The  bed  was  of  feathers — not  flock. 
An  oak  chest  of  drawers,  which  did  duty  for  a  dressing-table, 
stood  by  the  window,  which  itself  overlooked  the  yard,  and  on  the 
top  stood  a  small  oval  swing  looking-glass.  There  were  small 
strips  of  carpet  along  the  two  sides  of  the  bed  which  did  not 
touch  the  wall ;  an  almost  triangular  washstand  in  one  corner, 
and  near  the  middle  of  the  room  a  rush-bottomed  chair  and  a 
small  tripod  table.  There  was  also  a  cushioned  easy-chair,  which 
had  a  suggestiveness  of  being  there  for  that  special  occasion  only; 
and  Jabez,  who,  on  his  first  glance  around,  began  to  speculate 
whether  the  whole  would  not  vanish  with  his  convalescence,  was 
reassured  when  he  saw  that  his  wooden  box  had  been  brought 
from  the  attic  and  stood  against  the  wall. 

The  six-foot,  bronzed,  bearded  man  of  forty  remains  a  child  to 
the  mother  who  bore  him,  or  the  woman  who  nursed  him.  And 
as  she  had  laid  him  in  his  cradle  when  a  baby,  Bess  helped 
Jabez  to  his  _new  bed,  fed  him  with  the  beef-tea  which  Kezia  had 
prepared  (for  a  wonder,  without  a  grumble),  gave  him  the  cooling 
draught  Mr.  Huertley  had  sent  in,  smoothed  his  pillows  for  repose, 
and  kissed  his  brow,  with  a  "  God  bless  thee  1"  much  as  she  had 
done  when  he  was  an  ailing  child,  but  with  all  the  access  of 
motherliness  her  own  maternity  had  given. 

Nevertheless  he  did  not  sleep  readily.  Neither  Bess's  soothing 
hand  nor  the  soft  bed  superinduced  slumber.  He  was  modest, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  207 

and  "  Mr.  Clegg "  haunted  him.  He  could  not  see  the  connection 
between  his  impulsive  rush  forward  to  check  the  yeoman's 
plunging  steed,  and  his  employer's  recognition  of  the  service 
rendered. 

"  I  only  did  my  duty,"  he  debated  with  himself,  as  he  lay  there, 
with  a  mere  streak  of  light  from  the  glimmering  rushlight  showing 
between  the  closely-drawn  curtains — "  I  only  did  my  duty.  Any- 
one else  would  have  done  the  same  in  my  place.  If  I  had  once 
thought  of  consequences  and  grasped  the  reins  deliberately,  there 
would  have  been  some  bravery  in  that.  But  I  never  thought  of 
the  sword,  not  I.  I  only  thought  of  poor  old  Mr.  Chadwick  and 
Molly;  and  I'm  sure  Mr.  Mabbott's  ready  hand  did  as  good 
service  as  mine.  Only,  I  happened  to  get  hurt.  Yes,  that's  it! 
And  they  are  sorry  for  me.  I  wonder  if  that  ruffianly  fellow 
did  know  whom  he  was  striking  at?  I  hardly  think  he  did,  he 
was  so  very  tipsy.  If  I  fancied  he  did,  I — but  he  could  not.  He 
was  just  blind  drunk.  What  a  pity,  for  such  a  handsome  fellow, 
not  older  than  I  am,  and  a  gentleman's  son,  too!  Forgive  him! 
I  don't  think  I've  much  to  forgive.  I'd  bear  the  pain  twice  over 
for  all  the  kind  things  that  have  been  said  and  done  since! 
Tea  in  the  parlour  with  Parson  Brookes  and  all!  And  this 
handsome  bed-room  [handsome  only  in  untutored  eyes].  And  all 
the  thanks  I  have  had  for  so  little.  And,  oh !  the  bliss  of  holding 
Augusta's  delicate  hand  in  mine,  and  hearing  the  music  those 
white  fingers  made.  It's  worth  the  pain  three  times  over.  And 
Mr.  Clegg,  too !  Mr.  Clegg !  How  like  a  gentleman  it  does  sound  ! 
Will  anybody  call  me  Mr.  Clegg  besides  Miss  Chadwick?  How 
fond  she  must  be  of  her  father,  from  the  way  she  thanked 
me!" 

(Ah,  Jabez !  what  oculist  can  cure  blindness  such  as  thine  ?) 
If  less   consecutive,   still   in    some  such  current   ran  the  young 
man's     thoughts,    until     chaos    came,    and    his    closed    eyes    saw 


2o8  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

innumerable  Mr,  Cleggs  written  on  walls,  and  floor,  and  curtains, 
and  a  delicious  symphony  seemed  to  chorus  the  words,  and  "lap 
him  in  Elysium." 

After  that,  once  each  day,  Mrs.  Ashton  paid  him  a  brief 
visit  of  inspection  and  inquiry,  generally  timed  so  as  to  meet 
the  surgeon.  Mr.  Ashton,  with  less  of  ceremony,  dropped  in 
occasionally,  to  bring  him  a  newspaper,  book,  or  pamphlet  to 
beguile  the  hours,  and  was  not  above  loitering  for  a  pleasant 
chat  on  matters  indoors  and  out,  the  state  of  political  feeling, 
and  of  business,  in  a  manner  so  friendly  Jabez  was  at  a  loss 
to  account  for  it.  Once  or  twice  Augusta  tapped  at  the  door, 
to  ask  if  Jabez  was  better,  and  to  "hope  he  would  soon  be 
well,"  and  the  simple  words  ran  through  his  brain  with  a  thousand 
chimerical  meanings. 

Joshua  Brookes  paid  him  a  couple  of  visits,  brought  him  papers 
of  sweetmeats  and  messages  from  Mrs.  Clowes,  and  a  Latin 
Testament  and  a  worn  ^Eneid  from  his  own  stores,  as  a  little 
light  reading.  Mrs.  Chadwick,  too,  made  her  appearance  at  his 
bedside,  with  kindly  and  grateful  words  from  her  husband ;  and 
amongst  them  he  was  in  a  fair  way  of  becoming  elevated  into 
a  hero  to  his  own  hurt. 

Simon  Clegg  (who  pulled  off  his  thick  Sunday  shoes  in  the 
kitchen,  and  went  up-stairs  in  his  stocking  feet,  lest  he  should 
make  a  clatter  and  spoil  the  carpets)  counteracted  the  mischief, 
and  somewhat  clipped  the  pinions  of  soaring  imagination. 

Jabez,  his  arm  bandaged  and  sustained  by  a  sling,  lay  with 
his  head  against  the  straight,  high  back  of  his  padded  chair, 
between  the  window  and  the  fireplace,  which  glowed,  not  with 
live  coals,  but  a  beau-pot  of  sunflowers  and  hollyhocks  from 
Simon's  garden.  At  his  feet  lay  little  Sam,  fast  asleep,  with  his 
fat  arms  round  the  neck  of  Nelson,  the  black  retriever,  which 
had  somehow  contrived  to  sneak  past  Kezia  with  his  tail 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


209 


between  his  legs,  and  to  follow  Bess  up-stairs,  where  he  had 
established  himself  in  perfect  content. 

Simon  greeted  his  foster-son  with  bated  breath,  awed  no  doubt 
by  the  lamp-bearing  statues  in  the  hall  and  on  the  staircase,  and 
hardly  raised  his  voice  above  a  whisper  while  he  stayed.  He  had 
much  to  tell  which  the  reader  already  knows,  but  he  took  his 
leave  with  quite  a  long  oration,  impressed  no  doubt  by  the  comfort 
in  that  chamber,  as  well  as  by  the  grandeur  in  rooms  of  which 
he  had  caught  a  glimpse  through  open  doors.  Jabez,  himself, 
being  still  feeble,  had  spoken  but  little. 

"  Moi  lad,"  said  he,  "  this  is  a  grand  place,  but  dunnot  yo' 
let  it  mak'  yo'  preawd  ;  an'  aw  hope  as  yo'r  thenkful  yo'han 
fallen  among  sich  koind  folk." 

"Indeed   I  am." 

"Yo'  did  nowt  but  whatn  wur  yo'r  duty,  moi  lad,  as  aw 
trust  thah  allays  wilt ;  and  thah's  getten  a  mester  an'  missis  i* 
ten  theawsand,  to  mak'  so  mich  on  a  cut  in  a  'prentice's  arm — 
ay,  tho  it  wur  got  i'  savin'  one  o'  theer  own  kin !  Luk  yo', 
Jabez :  o'  th'  mesters  aw  ever  saw  afore  thowt  as  'prentices, 
body  an'  soul,  wur  theer  own ;  an'  yo've  lit  on  yo'r  feet,  aw  con 
tell  yo'.  An'  yo'  conno'  do  too  mich  for  sich  folk.  Aw  see 
they're  makkin'  a  man  on  yo',  an'  dunnot  yo'  spoil  o'  by  thinldn' 
yo'  han  earnt  it,  an'  han  a  reet  to  it.  We're  unprofitable 
sarvants,  th'  best  on  us.  An'  dunnot  yo'  harbour  anny  malice 
agen  th'  chap  as  chopped  at  yo'.  Them  Yowmanry  Calvary  wur 
as  drunk  as  fiddlers,  an'  as  blind  as  bats.  Thah  tuk*  thi  chance 
wi'  the  ruck,  an'  came  off  better  than  some  folk.  So  thenk  God 
it's  no  waur,  an'  bear  no  malice ;  an'  thenk  God  as  sent  yo' 
theer  i'  the  nick  o'  time." 

In  little  more  than  a  fortnight  Jabez  was  downstairs  again, 
although  his  arm,  not  being  thoroughly  healed,  yet  needed 
support,  and  he  was  not  hurried  into  the  warehouse.  Neither 


2io  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

was  he  again  invited  to  join  the  family,  Mrs.  Ashton  having 
objected  to  Mr.  Ashton's  proposition. 

"  It  would  lift  the  young  man  out  of  his  sphere,  William,  and 
do  him  more  harm  than  good.  Only  very  strong  heads  can 
stand  sudden  elevation;  and  it  is  well  to  make  no  more  haste 
than  good  speed." 

But  Mr.  Ashton's  "  Just  so "  was  less  definite  than  ordinary, 
and  he  took  a  second  pinch  of  snuff  unawares,  with  a  prolonged 
emphasis,  which  supplied  the  place  of  words.  To  the  observant, 
Mr.  Ashton's  snuff-box  contained  as  much  eloquence  as  did  Lord 
Burleigh's  celebrated  wig.  He  had  taken  a  liking  to  the  lad 
from  the  first,  paid  very  little  deference  to  Mrs.  Grundy,  and 
gave  Jabez  credit  for  a  stronger  head  than  did  his  more  cautious 
and  philosophic  lady. 

Yet,  Jabez,  to  his  surprise,  found  that  his  little  room  down 
stairs  had  undergone  a  transformation.  It  was  no  longer  a  bare 
office,  fitted  only  with  a  desk  and  stool.  Desk  and  stool  were 
there  still,  but  a  carpet,  hanging  shelves,  a  few  useful  books,  and 
other  furniture  had  been  introduced,  the  result  being  a  compact 
parlour.  Mrs.  Ashton  had  her  own  way  of  showing  good- 
will. 

His  previous  application  to  work  in  that  room,  when  his  fellow- 
apprentices  in  over  hours  were  cracking  jokes  on  the  kitchen  settle, 
lounging  about  the  yard,  tormenting  or  being  tormented  by  Kezia, 
had  served  somewhat  to  isolate  and  lift  him  above  them,  albeit 
he  took  his  meals  in  the  kitchen  with  the  rest.  This  separation 
was  now  confirmed  by  orders  Kezia  received  to  "  serve  Clegg's 
dinner  in  his  own  room,"  orders  which  Kezia  resented  with 
asperity,  and  at  least  three  days'  ill-humour,  and  which  James 
declined  to  execute.  He  was  "  not  goin'  to  disgrace  his  cloth  by 
waitin'  on  'prentice  lads!"  Ready-handed  Cicily  came  to  the 
rescue,  and  took  the  office  on  herself,  amid  the  banter  of  the 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  211 

kitchen,   which   the    quick-witted    maid    returned   with   right  good 
will  and  right  good  temper. 

Permission  to  receive  his  friends  in  his  own  room  occasionally 
had  been  graciously  accorded  by  Mrs.  Ashton  herself,  with  the 
characteristic  observation — 

"They  are  worthy  people,  Jabez  Clegg,  and  you  owe  them  a 
son's  duty ;  besides,  you  need  some  relaxation — '  The  over-strained 
bow  is  apt  to  snap,'  and  'All  work  and  no  play  makes  Jack  a 
dull  boy.'" 

Altogether  he  was  more  than  satisfied.  He  was  not  demon- 
strative, but  his  heart  swelled  as  he  felt  within  himself  that  all 
these  little  things  were  stepping  stones  upwards ;  and  he  mentally 
resolved  to  mount  them  fairly.  He  recognised  that  he  was  rising, 
and  ere  the  week  was  out  he  found  that  others  recognised  it  also. 

His  blood-stained  garments  had  been  removed,  whither  he  knew 
not,  and  he  had  to  fall  back  on  his  grey  frieze  Sunday  suit.  Be 
sure  he  began  to  calculate  the  chances  of  getting  a  fresh  one. 

As  he  was  able  to  go  out,  he  was  employed  on  out-door 
business  until  his  arm  should  regain  its  full  vitality,  and  one  of 
his  errands  was  with  a  note  to  Mr.  Chadwick's  tailor,  in  King 
Street.  At  first  he  thought  there  was  some  mistake  when  the 
fraction  of  a  man  proceeded  without  more  ado  to  take  his  measure. 

Saturday  night  proved  there  had  been  no  mistake.  On  his 
bed,  accompanied  by  a  very  kind  note  from  Mr.  Chadwick 
(written  with  his  left  hand),  lay  not  only  a  well-cut,  well-made 
suit  of  clothes,  but  a  hat,  white  linen  shirts,  neck-cloths,  and  hose. 

Did  ever  a  young  girl  turn  up  her  back  hair,  or  young  man 
assume  his  first  coat  indifferently?  To  Jabez— the  foundling— the 
Blue-coat  apprentice,  this  was  not  merely  a  first  coat,  not  merely 
a  badge  of  approaching  manhood, — the  whole  outfit,  provided 
as  it  was  by  his  master's  brother-in-law,  seemed  a  recognition  of 
the  station  he  was  henceforth  to  fill.  No  clerk  in  the  counting- 


212  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

house  was  so  well  equipped  as  he,  when  he  stood  before  his  oval 
swing-glass  (for  the  first  time  far  too  small),  and  endeavoured  to 
survey  himself  therein,  that  fine  September  Sunday  morning. 

I  will  not  presume  to  say  that  he  looked  the  conventional 
gentleman  in  that  suit  of  glossy  brown  broadcloth,  and  beaver 
hat ;  I  will  not  say  that  he  did  not  feel  stiff  in  them.  Only  use 
gives  ease;  but  this  I  will  say,  that  a  more  manly  figure  never 
gave  shape  to  garments,  or  a  more  noble  head  to  a  hat,  albeit 
there  was  more  of  strength  than  beauty  in  the  face  it  shaded. 

His  forehead  was  broad  and  well  developed ;  the  reflective  as 
well  as  the  perceptive  faculties  were  there.  There  was  just  a 
slight  defensive  rise  on  the  else  straight  nose ;  the  eyebrows  were 
full  save  where  a  scar  broke  the  line  of  one.  Firm  but  pleasant 
were  mouth  and  dimpled  chin,  and  the  lower  jaw  was  somewhat 
massive ;  but  his  full  grey  eyes,  dark  almost  to  blackness,  and 
standing  far  apart,  were  clear  and  deep  as  wells  where  truth  lay 
hid,  though  deep  emotion  had  power  to  kindle  them  with  the 
luminosity  of  stars. 

I  am  afraid  he  was  not  the  only  one  on  whom  Parson  Gatliffe's 
eloquence  was  thrown  away  that  Sabbath  morning.  If  he  looked 
up  at  the  Blue-coat  boys  in  the  Chetham  Gallery  with  their  quaint 
blue  robes  and  neat  bands,  to  throw  memory  back  and  imagination 
forward,  others  were  doing  likewise,  from  old  Simon  in  his  free 
seat  to  his  envious  fellow-'prentices  in  the  pew,  whose  mocking 
grimaces  drew  upon  them  the  sharp  censure  of  the  beadle. 

Party  spirit  was  then  at  a  white  heat.  Had  Peterloo  been 
written  on  his  forehead  it  could  not  have  marked  him  out  for 
curious  eyes  more  surely  than  his  sling. 

Greetings,  not  altogether  congratulatory,  followed  him  through 
the  churchyard.  But  old  Simon  caught  his  left  hand  in  a 
tremulous  grasp,  his  eyes  moist  with  proud  emotion.  Tom  Hulme 
beamed  upon  him,  and  Mrs,  Clowes,  energetic  as  ever,  overtook 


THB    MANCHESTER    MAN.  213 

them  a  few  yards  from  the  chapter-house,  just  as  Joshua  Brookes 
emerged  from  the  door. 

"  Well,  my  lad,  I'm  glad  to  see  you  at  church  again ! "  she 
exclaimed,  shaking  him  warmly  by  the  left  hand.  "  I  hardly  knew 
you  in  your  fine  clothes.  They've  made  quite  a  gentleman  of 
you.  We  shall  have  to  call  you  Mr.  Clegg  now,  I  reckon." 

"Now,  Mother  Clowes,  don't  you  give  Jabez  humbug  of  that 
sort ;  it's  sweet,  but  not  wholesome.  '  Fine  feathers  make  fine 
birds.'  He's  as  proud  as  a  peacock  already,  Mr.  Clegg,  indeed! 
and  him  a  'prentice  lad  not  out  of  his  time !  Let  him  stick  to 
the  name  we  gave  him  at  his  baptism — it's  worth  all  your  fine 
Misters."  And  Joshua  turned  off,  muttering,  "  Mr.  Clegg,  indeed !  " 
as  he  went  away. 

Neither  the  old  woman  in  her  antiquated  gown  and  kerchief- 
covered  mutch,  nor  the  old  parson  in  his  cassock  and  square  cap, 
modulated  their  loud  voices.  Jabez  blushed  painfully.  Both  had 
touched  sensitive  chords. 

But  others  had  heard  the  "Mr.  Clegg,"  and  he  heard  it  again, 
from  Kezia  and  the  apprentices,  in  every  tone  of  mockery  and 
derision.  Thence  it  travelled  into  the  warehouse.  He  bore  it 
with  set  teeth  through  many  a  painful  week,  until  the  title  stuck 
to  him,  and  the  taunt  was  forgotten  in  the  force  of  habit. 


CHAPTER    THE     TWENTY-THIRD.* 

IN      THE     THEATRE     ROYAL. 

IT  has  been  said  that  Madame  Broadbent  had  various 
subtle  ways  of  advertising'  her  "Academy"  (as  the 
directory  has  it),  by  which  she  generally  contrived  to 
"kill  two  birds  with  one  stone."  One  of  these  would 
scarcely  have  been  practicable  in  any  but  a  theatrical  town  like 
Manchester,  where  not  even  the  fierceness  of  party  politics  could 
close  the  theatre  doors.  She  was  particularly  fond  of  a  good 
play,  and  as  particularly  careful  of  her  own  pocket.  So  she 
watched  for  such  occasions  as  a  special  benefit  or  "Bespeak  ' 
night,  to  engage  one  of  the  dress-boxes,  and  take  tickets  for  a 
select  party  of  her  pupils.  The  young  ladies — apart  from  all 
natural  love  of  amusement  and  display — were  taught  to  regard 
their  admission  to  Mrs.  Broadbent's  train  as  a  high  honour — a 
mark  of  exceeding  distinction  ;  and  few  were  the  parents  so  stern 
or  so  niggardly  as  to  refuse  the  four  shillings  for  a  box-ticket 
when  Madame  invited  and  Miss  pleaded. 

The  then  Theatre  Royal,  in  Fountain  Street,  which  was  opened 
in  1807,  under  Macready's  management,  and  brought  to  the 
ground  by  fire  in  1844,  was,  in  1820,  a  building  so  capacious — so 
solidly  built — it  might  not  fear  comparison  with  Drury  Lane. 
Stage,  scene-rooms,  dressing-rooms,  were  all  on  an  extensive  scale. 

*  See  Appendix. 


HENRY    HUNT. 
Front  an  Engraving. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


215 


There  were  three  tiers  of  boxes,  a  large  pit,  and  an  immense 
gallery  breaking  the  line  of  the  third  tier.  With  the  exception  of 
the  large  side  boxes,  which  were  partially  on  the  stage,  all  these 
boxes  were  open  to  the  view,  having  only  a  divisional  barrier  the 
height  of  the  parapet,  light  iron  pillars  supporting  the  weight 
above.  There  were  no  chairs — only  narrow,  baize-covered  benches, 
innocent  of  backs.  And  the  theatre  was  lighted  by  sperm-oil  lamps, 
those  round  the  auditorium  being  suspended  by  cords  over  pulleys, 
so  as  to  be  lowered  for  lighting,  trimming,  &c.  But  the  glory  of 
that  theatre,  of  which  it  was  shorn  at  a  later  date,  was  its  box- 
lobby — a  lofty,  open  promenade,  wide  as  a  street,  and  long  in 
proportion,  for  its  one  grand  entrance  was  in  Fountain  Street, 
the  other  in  Back  Mosley  Street.  Only  for  the  step  or  two  at 
either  end,  carriages  might  have  driven  through,  or,  depositing  their 
living  loads  within  at  the  saloon  doors,  have  turned  easily  and 
driven  back. 

This  lobby  was  naturally  a  lounge,  as  well  as  a  waiting-place 
for  servants  and  others  with  wraps  and  pattens,  neither  carriages 
nor  hackney-coaches  being  numerous,  and  the  streets  being — well, 
not  quite  so  clean  or  well-paved  as  at  present. 

The  ten  days'  trial  of  Henry  Hunt  and  his  compatriots  at 
York  had,  as  is  well  known,  resulted  in  sentence  of  imprisonment 
for  different  terms,  to  the  discomfiture  of  one  party,  the  exultation 
of  the  other.  Close  upon  the  promulgation  of  this  sentence  came 
Easter  week,  at  the  beginning  of  April,  1820,  when  Jabez  had 
little  more  than  a  month  to  serve  of  his  apprenticeship.  Edmund 
Kean  was  then  playing  at  the  Theatre  Royal,  supported  by  Sophia 
M'Gibbon — daughter  of  Woodfall,  the  memorable  printer  of 
"Junius" — a  favourite  on  the  Manchester  "boards." 

Either  to  mark  their  satisfaction  at  the  result  of  the  trial,  or 
their  admiration  of  the  great  tragedian,  the  officers  of  the 
Manchester  Yeomanry  Cavalry  bespoke  "Othello"  for  the 


2i6  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

Wednesday  evening,  and  Mrs.  Broadbent  made  the  most  of  the 
glorious  opportunity.  She  engaged  a  box  close  to  the  centre  of 
the  dress-circle,  on  terms  well  understood,  and  as  small  people 
take  less  room  than  large  ones,  and  her  front  row  was  very 
juvenile,  she  contrived  to  make  it  a  profitable  investment,  even 
though  she  took  a  teacher  with  her  (at  a  lower  rate).  The 
young  ladies  assembled  at  the  school,  and  made  quite  a 
procession  to  the  theatre,  where  Mrs.  Broadbent's  own  maid  took 
charge  of  hats  and  cloaks,  and  waited  drearily  in  the  saloon. 
Then,  duly  marshalled  by  Madame  Broadbent  and  Miss  Nuttall, 
they  filed  into  the  box  decorously  and  took  their  seats,  the 
youngest  in  the  van — the  whole  programme  having  been  rehearsed 
and  re-rehearsed  for  a  day  or  two  beforehand. 

A  bouquet  of  white  rosebuds  they  might  have  been  called, 
white  muslin  was  so  general ;  but  one  young  lady  blushed  in  pink 
gauze,  and  Augusta  Ashton's  lovely  head  and  shoulders  were  set 
off  by  delicate  blue  crape.  There  were  round  necklaces  of  coral 
or  pearl,  long  loose  gloves  of  cambric  or  kid,  and  every  damsel 
in  her  teens  had  her  fan.  But  of  fans,  commend  me  to  Madame 
Broadbent's.  It  was  no  light  trifle  of  ivory  or  sandal-wood,  but 
of  strong  green  paper,  spotted  with  gold,  with  ribs  and  frame  of 
ebony,  and  it  measured  nearly  half-a-yard  when  closed.  Her 
well-saved,  long-waisted,  stiff  brocaded  robe  and  petticoat  might 
have  been  her  wedding-dress  kept  for  state  occasions ;  but  that 
fan,  slung  by  a  ribbon  from  her  wrist,  was  part  of  her 
individuality — the  symbol  of  her  authority  inseparable  from  her 
walking  self.  A  relic  of  her  younger  days,  she  employed  it — 
citing  Queen  Charlotte  as  her  examplar — to  arrest  attention,  to 
admonish,  to  chastise ;  and  woe  to  the  luckless  little  lady  on 
whom  it  came  in  admonition ! 

The  box  was  filled  to  the  very  door,  where  Miss  Nuttall  kept 
guard.  Madame  Broadbent  displayed  her  own  important  person 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  217 

on  the  third  row  above  the  curly  heads  of  the  smaller  fry,  and  to 
Augusta  Ashton — being  a  profitable  pupil  of  whom  she  had  reason 
to  be  proud — was  allotted  a  seat  next  to  herself. 

The  house  was  full  and  fashionable,  both  stage  boxes  being 
occupied  by  members  of  the  Manchester  Yeomanry,  resplendent  in 
silver  and  blue.  Laurence  Aspinall,  John  Walmsley,  and  Ben 
Travis  were  of  the  party.  In  the  pit  were  the  critics,  pressing 
as  closely  as  possible  to  the  stage.  Nods  and  smiles  from  friends 
in  different  quarters  of  the  theatre  greeted  the  component  parts 
of  Madame  Broadbent's  bevy  of  innocents,  and  smiles  responded. 

Then  rose  the  green  curtain  upon  Edmund  Kean's  Othello 
and  Mrs.  M'Gibbon's  Desdemona.  The  audience  was  enthralled. 
Act  by  act  the  players  kept  attention  fixed,  and  all  went  well 
until  the  last  scene.  But,  as  Othello  pressed  the  murderous  pillow 
down,  one  of  Madame  Broadbent's  white-frocked  misses  in  the 
front  row,  with  whose  relatives  Desdemona  lodged  when  she  was 
not  Desdemona,  started  up,  and  cried  out  piteously — 

"He's  killing  Mrs.  M'Gibbon !      He's  killing  Mrs.  M'Gibbon  !" 

The  clear  voice  rang  through  the  house  to  the  consternation  of 
the  actors,  the  amusement  of  some,  and  the  annoyance  of  the 
audience.  Some  of  the  officers  laughed  outright  in  the  very  face 
of  the  tragic  Moor ;  but  Madame  Broadbent  was  furious,  all  the 
more  that  she  was  bound  to  suppress  her  passion  then  and 
there. 

For  the  credit  of  her  "Academy"  she,  however,  felt  bound  to 
resent  so  flagrant  a  breach  of  decorum.  Tapping  the  tearful  culprit 
on  the  shoulder  with  her  ready  fan,  in  a  stern  whisper,  scarcely  less 
audible  than  the  child's  impulsive  tribute  to  the  great  tragedian, 
she  asked,  "How  can  you  bemean  yourself  so  far,  miss,  to  the 
disgrace  of  the  school?"  and  beckoning  the  child  forth,  she  was 
passed  to  Miss  Nuttall  at  the  very  back  of  the  box,  sobbing  more 
for  Mrs.  M'Gibbon  than  for  Mrs.  Broadbent. 


218  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

This  caused  a  change  of  places,  which  brought  Miss  Ashton 
more  prominently  into  view.  Laurence  Aspinall,  an  ardent 
admirer  of  beauty,  put  his  hand  on  the  shoulder  of  the  officer 
before  him,  and  said — "  Good  heavens,  Walmsley !  Do  you  see 
that  lovely  creature  in  Mother  Broadbent's  box?" 

"Which?"  was   the   obtuse   answer. 

"Which!"  (contemptuously  echoed.)  "The  divine  beauty  in 
celestial  blue.  Who  is  she?"  And  his  admiring  gaze  brought  a 
conscious  blush  to  the  young  lady's  forehead,  although  the 
querist  was  beyond  her  hearing. 

"In  blue?"  And  Walmsley  lazily  scanned  the  group.  "Oh! 
that's  Charlotte's  cousin,  Augusta  Ashton !  Yes,  she  is  rather 
pretty ; "  and  the  married  man  turned  away  to  the  stage. 

"  Rather  pretty  !      She's  an  angel !    You   must  introduce  me !" 

"  Well,  well !:'  answered  the  other  testily,  anxious  to  end  a 
colloquy  which  distracted  his  attention  from  the  tragedy,  "I'll 
see.  But  she's  only  a  schoolgirl — not  yet  sixteen !" 

"  Egad !  but  she  looks  seventeen,  and  she'll  mend  of  that 
disqualification  every  day ;"  and  still  he  kept  his  eyes  on 
Augusta  in  a  manner  extremely  disconcerting,  though  her  romantic 
little  heart  fluttered,  for  in  him  she  recognised  the  "  Adonis " 
who  had  reared  his  horse  so  threateningly  in  front  of  her  Uncle 
Chadwick's  house, 

The  green  curtain  came  down  amid  universal  plaudits.  Ladies 
rose  to  rest  themselves  and  chat,  as  was  the  custom.  Gentlemen 
quitted  their  seats  to  join  friends  elsewhere,  to  lounge  in  saloon 
or  box-lobby,  or  to  take  a  hasty  glass  at  the  "  Garrick's  Head " 
adjoining. 

Amongst  the  latter  were  Walmsley  and  Aspinall ;  but  they 
did  not  return  when  the  prompter's  bell  rang  the  curtain  up. 
There  was  a  pas  de  deux  of  Tyrolean  peasants  by  the  chief 
dancers  of  the  company.  Then  followed  an  interlude,  and  then 


THB    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

a  comic  song,  all  before  the  last  piece  ;  but  the  comrades  did 
not  return ;  and  Augusta  found  herself  wondering  whether  the 
handsome  officer,  with  the  rich  copper-coloured  hair,  would  come 
back  at  all. 

They  did  make  their  appearance  during  the  progress  of  the 
drama  (Monk  Lewis's  "Castle  Spectre,"  in  which  Mrs.  M'Gibbon 
gave  ocular  demonstration  that  she  was  not  killed),  both  seemingly 
exhilarated,  but  they  left  again  before  the  drama  concluded. 

Well  drilled  as  were  Madame  Broadbent's  pupils,  they  could 
not  quit  their  box  in  the  same  order  they  entered  it — big  people 
so  seldom  recognise  the  right  of  little  ones  to  precedence.  They 
straggled  into  the  saloon,  separated  by  the  crowd.  There  Madame 
Broadbent,  assisted  by  Miss  Nuttall,  collected  her  brood,  and 
passing  on  to  the  box— lobby,  they  looked  around  for  their 
respective  attendants. 

There  was  one — a  fine  young  man,  in  height  some  five  feet 
ten — who  sprang  forward  with  shawl  and  calesh  for  Miss  Ashton, 
at  the  same  time  bowing  deferentially  to  the  pompous  dame  with 
the  big  fan.  He  proceeded  to  adjust  the  shawl  round  the  dimpled 
shoulders  so  very  precious  to  him,  and  said — 

"I   hope  you  have  had  a  pleasant  evening,  Miss  Augusta." 

Then  bowing  again  to  Mrs.  Broadbent,  he  offered  his  hand 
respectfully  to  the  young  lady  to  conduct  her  home. 

On  the  instant  they  were  intercepted  by  Aspinall  and  Walmsley, 
neither  so  sober  as  he  might  have  been. 

"  Augusta,  here's  my  friend,  Aspinall ;  deuced  good  fellow — 
quite  struck  with  you,"  was  Captain  Walmsley's  unceremonious 
introduction — at  a  time,  too,  when  introductions  were  somewhat 
formal. 

"  Quite,  Miss  Ashton,"  he  assented.  "  Ton  my  soul,  I  am ! 
Your  charming  face  has  quite  captivated  me,  and  those  eyes 
pierce  my  heart  like  bullets.  Permit  me  to  escort  you  home." 


22O  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

There  was  an  amusing  consciousness  of  his  own  attractions  in 
this  free  expression  of  his  admiration.  A  woman  of  the  world, 
with  her  weapons  ready,  might  have  dismissed  him  either  with 
hauteur,  badinage,  or  cool  indifference;  but  to  Augusta  Ashton, 
almost  a  child  in  years,  it  was  bewildering  and  disconcerting. 

Her  eyes  fell — her  colour  rose.  She  stood  silent,  abashed,  and 
confused.  Native  modesty  took  alarm. 

Jabez   came  to  her  relief. 

"  Miss  Ashton  is  under  my  protection,  sir ;  she  requires  no 
other  escort." 

The  words  were  cool  as  those  of  a  man  who,  having  his 
temper  well  under  control,  did  not  choose  to  quarrel,  though  his 
pulses  were  beating  like  drums.  With  cool  effrontery  his  old 
antagonist  looked  him  full  in  the  face. 

"  So  it's  you  again,  yellow-skirt !  A  nice  fellow  to  protect  a 
pretty  girl :  a  fellow  without  skill  to  defend  himself,  or  spirit 
to  resent  an  insult ;"  and  the  speaker's  red  lips  curled  with 
derision. 

The  eyes  of  Jabez  kindled  and  his  teeth  set.  There  was  no 
lack  of  spirit,  but  not  the  spirit  of  which  common  brawls  are 
made.  He  was  anxious  to  get  the  trembling  Augusta  away 
from  the  gathering  crowd. 

Madame  Broadbent,  shorn  of  half  her  pretty  train,  came  up 
aghast. 

"  Young  lady  !       Miss  Ashton  !      What   is " 

A  wave  of  the  silver-braided  sleeve  set  her  aside,  chafed  and 
indignant  at  the  freedom  and  impertinence. 

"Keep  out  of  the  way,  Mother  Broadbent.  Look  after  the 
rest  of  your  lambkins.  Miss  Ashton's  cousin  and  I  propose  to 
see  your  pupil  home." 

"  All  right,  Augusta,"  said  Walmsley,  thickly ;  "  we'll  see  you 
home." 


" BRAVO     CLEGG  ! 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  221 

But  she  clung  in  dismay  to  the  arm  of  Jabez,  and  not 
Hercules  himself  could  have  torn  her  from  him.  Ignoring  the 
coarse  taunt  of  Lieutenant  Aspinall,  he  endeavoured  to  lead  her 
past  them,  simply  saying  to  Captain  Walmsley — 

"  Mr.  Ashton  committed  his  daughter  to  my  care.  I  am 
answerable  for  her  safety," 

Aspinall,  mistaking  his  calmness  for  pusillanimity,  again 
intercepted  their  passage,  and  would  have  taken  Augusta's  hand. 
But  a  will  strong  as  his  own — an  arm  strengthened  by  lifting 
and  carrying  heavy  burdens — was  opposed  to  him.  Jabez  struck 
no  blow  ;  he  thrust  out  an  arm  with  muscles  like  leather,  swept 
the  offensive  lieutenant  aside,  and  down  he  went  on  the  stone 
pavement  of  the  lobby. 

"Bravo,  Clegg!"  exclaimed  a  voice  from  the  rear,  and  the 
burly  form  of  Ben  Travis  parted  the  curious  crowd,  as  leviathan 
parts  the  waves,  before  the  infuriated  Aspinall  could  rise  or 
Walmsley  interpose.  "  That's  right ;  take  the  young  lady  away, 
and  leave  these  gallant  bucks  to  me.  I'll  guard  the  honour  of 
our  corps." 

The  terrified  young  lady  and  the  inebriated  young  bully  were 
alike  in  sure  hands.  But  consequential  Madame  Broadbent, 
ignored,  forgotten,  had  received  a  blow  to  her  importance  she 
was  not  likely  to  forget  or  overlook. 


CHAPTER    THE    TWENTY-FOURTH. 

MADAME  BROADBENT'S  FAN. 

OHEY  had  made  their  exit  from  the  Fountain  Street 
end  of  the  box-lobby  to  avoid  the  rush  from  the 
gallery  door  in  Back  Mosley  Street,  which  somewhat 
lengthened  the  short  distance  Jabez  had  to  convey 
his  precious  charge,  who  appeared  more  apprehensive  of  offending 
Madame  Broadbent  by  scant  and  unceremonious  leave-taking 
than  troubled  by  the  impertinence  of  the  young  officers. 

Truth  to  tell,  the  whole  adventure  had  a  savour  of  Miss 
Bohanna's  circulating  library  about  it,  and  she  felt  herself 
elevated  into  a  heroine  by  the  occurrence.  But  her  appearance 
before  Madame  Broadbent  in  the  morning  would  be  very  real 
and  unromantic,  that  lady  resenting  nothing  so  much  as 
disrespect. 

"You  see,  Jabez,  I  did  not  even  make  a  curtsey  to  her  as 
we  came  away.  I  am  afraid  she  will  be  displeased." 

"  If  you  think  so,  Miss  Ashton,"  he  replied,  respectfully,  "  I 
will  hasten  back  as  soon  as  I  have  seen  you  safely  home,  and 
bear  your  apologies  to  Madame  Broadbent.  She  may  not  have 
left  the  theatre.  Besides,  I  feel  that  I  also  owe  an  apology  for 
leaving  a  lady  of  her  age  unprotected  in  the  midst  of  such  a 
scene.  It  was  very  remiss  on  my  part,"  he  added,  "  but,  indeed, 
at  the  time  I  thought  only  of  placing  you  beyond  reach  of 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  223 

further  insult ;"  and  Augusta  could  hear  him  mutter  between  his 
teeth,  "The  impertinent  puppy!" 

The  distance  even  from  Fountain  Street  was  very  inconsiderable, 
and  they  had  reached  the  broad  steps  of  the  door  in  Mosley 
Street,  and  his  hand  was  on  the  lion-headed  knocker  when  this 
ejaculation  escaped  him. 

Service  from  Jabez  was  so  much  a  matter  of  course  that 
Augusta  regarded  his  care  for  herself,  and  his  proffer  to  run 
back  at  her  bidding,  only  in  the  light  of  apprentice-duty;  but 
that  muttered  exclamation  spoke  of  smothered  passion,  and 
before  James  was  roused  from  his  doze  in  front  of  the  far-away 
kitchen  fire  by  that  peal  on  the  knocker,  and  sleepily  opened 
the  door,  she  had  added  a  caution  as  an  addendum  to  her 
message  to  Madame  Broadbent. 

"  I  hope,  Jabez,  you  are  not  going  back  to — to  interfere  or 
quarrel  with  Mr.  Walmsley  and  the  other  officer.  If  they  are 
not  quite  sober,  you  must  remember  they  are  gentlemen." 

"  I  will  forget  nothing  I  should  remember,  Miss  Ashton," 
said  he,  as  James  unclosed  the  door  for  her  entrance,  and  he 
darted  off,  the  emphasis  she  had  laid  on  her  closing  words 
having  stung  him  keenly  with  a  sense  of  his  social  inferiority 
in  her  sight.  "  She  evidently  thinks  the  apprentice  College-boy 
has  no  right  to  raise  his  hand  against  gentility  in  uniform,  how- 
ever drunk  or  disorderly  it  may  be,"  he  thought,  as  he  ran  along, 
spurred  by  a  manly  desire  to  show  that  it  was  not  cowardice 
which  had  caused  him  to  leave  his  prostrate  enemy  in  the 
hands  of  a  deputy. 

He  was  not  three  minutes  in  reaching  the  box-entrance  in 
Back  Mosley  Street ;  but  for  all  that,  the  short  walk  home,  and 
the  brief  delay  caused  by  sleepy-headed  James,  had  given  ample 
time  to  empty  and  close  the  theatre,  from  which  more  than 
half  the  audience  had  dispersed  before  they  left.  Even  the  oil 


224  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN, 

lamps  over  the  doors  were  extinguished ;  and  though  a  few 
stragglers  loitered  about — the  natural  hangers-on  to  histrionic  skirts 
— and  there  were  brawlers  in  the  neighbourhood,  he  saw  none 
of  those  he  went  to  seek. 

The  fact  was,  Captain  Travis  had  hauled  Lieutenant  Aspinall 
from  the  ground  with  little  ceremony,  and  with  a  sharp  reproof 
for  "the  disgrace  he  was  bringing  on  their  corps  by  insulting  a 
young  lady  in  a  public  place,  as  if  sufficient  odium  did  not 
attach  to  the  Yeomanry  already,"  forced  him  into  a  waiting 
hackney-coach,  giving  the  driver  orders  to  bear  him  home  to  his 
father's  house  on  Ardwick  Green,  heedless  of  the  young  officer's 
remonstrance  to  the  contrary.  But  Jehu,  who  knew  his  fare 
drove  him  instead  to  the  "  George  and  Dragon  "  on  the  opposite 
side  of  the  Green,  and  Mr.  Aspinall  saw  nothing  of  his  hopeful 
son  that  night. 

Nor  would   Charlotte  Walmsley   have  seen    much  more  of  her 
husband,  had  not  kind-hearted   Ben   gone  far  out   of  his  own  way 
to   land   John   safely   at   home.     Perhaps   it  would  be  hardly  fair 
to  calculate  too  nicely  how   far  he  was  influenced  to  that  by  the 
relation  of   the    Walmsleys    to    Ellen   Chadwick,    since  the   secret 
springs  of  action  often  lie  too  far  down  even  for  self-knowledge. 
As  for  Madame  Broadbent,  no  sooner  had  Miss  Nuttall  disposed 
of  the   last  of  the   budding   misses  than   she  hid    her  indignation 
in  the  deep   shadow  of  her    large    calesh,  and  with  an  access  of 
importance,    left    the    theatre,   slightly   in   advance   of  her  humble 
dependants,  and   made  her   fearless  way   through   Fountain   Street 
and   High    Street,  with  a   step   which   augured   unpleasantness   for 
all  beneath  her  roof  if  her  supper  were  not  done  to  a  turn  and 
served   to  a  nicety. 

Augusta  was  somewhat  loth  to  leave  her  pillow  in  the  morning, 
after  the  night's  unusual  dissipation,  and  was  still  more  reluctant 
to  encounter  her  lessons  and  Mrs.  Broadbent ;  and  she  for  the 


WHITE    HART,    WHALEY    BRIDGE. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  225 

first  time  remarked  to  Cicily  that  she  thought  she  was  "quite 
too  old  to  go  to  school."  As  if  the  world  was  not  one  huge 
school,  wherein  the  dunces  get  punished  most  severely,  and 
even  the  best  and  brightest  do  not  escape  the  rod.  But  Augusta 
Ashton,  buoyant,  blooming,  cherished,  admired,  adored,  could  not 
see  that  her  real  schooling  would  begin  when  Madame  Broadbent's 
reign  ceased. 

No  doubt  Mr.  Ashton  would  have  been  coaxed  into  granting 
an  extension  of  his  darling  daughter's  Easter  holiday,  and  suffered 
her  to  remain  at  home  that  Thursday  morning,  but  he  was  at 
Whaley-Bridge ;  and  mamma  met  her  request  with  : — 

"  No,  my  dear,  you  have  had  quite  holiday  enough.  It  would 
be  setting  a  bad  example  to  infringe  Madame  Broadbent's  rules. 
Go,  my  dear,  and  go  cheerfully.  I  will  send  Cicily  for  you  at 
noon.  The  streets  will  be  rather  rough  this  week." 

She  went,  though  not  cheerfully,  and  Cicily  was  duly  despatched 
to  bring  her  home ;  but  neither  Cicily  nor  Miss  Ashton  had 
returned  when  dinner  was  put  upon  the  table  at  half-past 
twelve  o'clock.  Then  Mrs.  Ashton  recalled  her  own  words 
respecting  the  rough  streets,  and  the  insult  offered  as  unwelcome 
tribute  to  Augusta's  beauty  over-night ;  and,  though  by  no  means 
a  nervous  woman,  the  mother  grew  restless  and  apprehensive — 
a  lovely  daughter  who  is  an  only  child  is  so  very  anxious  a 
charge.  As  she  sat  down  to  her  solitary  meal,  another  thought 
crossed  her  mind. 

"James,  ask  Mr.  Clegg  to  oblige  me  by  stepping  this 
way." 

Mr.  Clegg  was  with  her  in  an  instant :  the  summons  was 
unusual. 

"Jabez,  I'll  thank  you  to  ascertain  why  Miss  Ashton  has 
not  returned  from  school  at  the  usual  time.  Cicily  has  been 
gone  almost  an  hour.  Should  Madame  be  keeping  her  in  for 


226  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

any  breach  of  etiquette  last  night,  pray  offer  an  apology  for  me 
and  my  daughter  also,  but  at  the  same  time  politely  insist  on 
Miss  Ashton's  immediate  return  to  dinner." 

"  I  believe  I  owe  Madame  Broadbent  an  apology  myself," 
answered  Jabez,  smiling.  "  I  shall  be  glad  of  an  opportunity  to 
discharge  the  debt." 

The  schoolroom  door  was  midway  down  the  dark,  narrow, 
arched  entry.  Groups  of  girls,  with  slates  and  bags  in  their 
hands,  loitering  on  the  pathway  at  the  entrance  and  in  the 
passage,  made  way  for  him,  with  curious  looks  and  whispers 
among  themselves  (Jabez  was  not  unknown  to  some  of  the  senior 
pupils).  The  schoolroom  door  stood  ajar ;  the  whole  place  was 
in  a  commotion  unprecedented  in  that  precise  establishment. 

Madame  Broadbent,  holding  by  the  copy-slip  axiom, 
"Familiarity  breeds  contempt,"  preserved  her  dignity  and  that 
of  her  high  office  by  avoiding  personal  contact  with  her  pupils, 
save  at  stated  hours.  Her  assistant-governesses  were  at  their 
posts  from  nine  until  twelve,  from  two  until  four  ;  but  Madame 
herself  only  sailed  into  the  long  room  from  the  house  door 
across  the  entry  at  eleven  o'clock  to  receive,  reports,  inspect 
work,  dispense  rewards,  or  administer  reproof  and  chastisement. 
"Spare  the  rod  and  spoil  the  child "  had  not  been  abolished 
from  the  educational  code  fifty-five  years  back. 

The  double  shock  her  importance  had  received  at  the  theatre 
sent  her  home  to  quarrel  with  her  supper ;  and,  as  a  meal 
despatched  in  an  ill-humour  does  not  easily  digest,  Othello  and 
the  Castle  Spectre  haunted  her  pillow,  and  broke  her  rest  with 
nightmares. 

She  rose  late,  and  stepped  into  her  schoolroom  later  than 
usual,  to  visit  her  accumulation  of  disagreeables  on  minor 
delinquents,  as  well  as  on  the  primary  offenders. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  227 

Let  us  be  just.  Madame  Broadbent  had  gracious  smiles  and 
approving  words  to  dispense  to  the  ultra-good,  and  their  very 
rarity  made  them  valuable.  But  if  she  rewarded  any  that  day, 
it  was  only  that  severity  might  stand  out  in  contrast.  Little 
hearts  beat,  little  fingers  plied  industrious  needles,  little  eyes 
bent  over  work,  when  Madame's  step  was  heard  in  the  entry ; 
but  when  her  august  presence  fairly  filled  the  room,  every  little 
damsel  rose  simultaneously,  and  saluted  her  entrance  with  a  low, 
formal,  deferential  curtsey. 

Two  rooms  had  evidently  been  thrown  into  one  to  give 
required  space,  the  back  portion  being  curiously  lit  by  a  narrow 
small-paned  window  extending  along  the  side,  high  above  the 
rows  of  racks  and  pegs.  It  was  the  writing  end  of  the  room. 
Madame  Broadbent  occupied  a  seat  in  the  front  portion,  almost 
opposite  to  the  door  ;  and  as  she  marched  towards  it  with  more 
than  ordinary  loftiness,  and  beat  her  fan  on  her  table  with  one 
peremptory  tap,  instead  of  a  short  rapid  quiver,  to  enforce  her 
command,  "  Attention,  ladies  ! "  the  very  youngest  of  those  ladies 
could  interpret  the  signs  portentously.  Lucky  was  the  young  lady 
whose  work  passed  muster  that  morning;  so  many  were  condemned 
to  stocks,  backboard,  columns  of  spelling,  recitations  from  the 
"  Speaker "  and  Thomson's  "  Seasons,"  lengths  of  open  hem,  back- 
stitching,  or  seaming ! 

At  length  Madame  Broadbent,  having  dismissed  ordinary 
business,  rapped  her  fan  upon  the  table,  and,  in  a  sharp, 
peremptory  tone,  called  "  Miss  Ashton  ! " — and  Miss  Ashton,  who 
had  been  expecting  the  summons  all  the  morning,  came  forward 
at  her  bidding,  but  not  with  the  ordinary  alacrity  of  pupilage. 
She  had  left  her  childhood  (I  had  almost  said  her  girlhood) 
behind  her  in  the  box-lobby  of  the  Theatre  Royal. 

"  Miss  Brookes ! "  cried  the  same  sharp  voice ;  and,  with  a 
painful  start,  the  little  girl  who  had  committed  such  a  terrible 


228  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

breach  of  decorum  before  a  whole  theatre  as  to  utter  her 
impromptu  commentary  on  the  tragedian's  art,  rose,  trembled, 
burst  into  tears,  but  was  too  agitated  to  obey  with  sufficient 
promptitude.  Her  seat  was  on  a  low  front  form.  Madame  took 
a  step  forward,  stretched  out  her  arm,  and  dragged  the  child 
by  the  ear  to  the  side  of  Augusta,  then  gave  her  a  smart  cuff 
as  an  admonition  to  more  prompt  obedience  another  time. 

Then  with  another  rap  of  her  fan  on  the  table,  which  set  all 
hearts  palpitating,  she  began  an  inflated  harangue  to  the  mite 
of  a  child  and  the  budding  woman,  in  which  she  reproached 
them  both  with  bringing  disgrace  on  the  "Academy,"  hitherto  so 
irreproachable.  The  one  had  drawn  the  attention  of  a  whole 
theatre  to  her  ill-breeding  and  want  of  proper  training;  the 
other  by  "  boldness  of  look  and  manner  had  licensed  the  free 
speech  of  loose  men ; "  and,  as  if  that  were  not  enough,  had 
"been  the  cause  of  an  unpardonable  insult  to  herself."  She, 
Madame  Broadbent,  so  highly  honoured  and  respected  by  the 
chief  people  in  the  town,  to  be  called  "  Mother  Broadbent ! " — it 
was  an  outrage  not  to  be  endured  ! 

Her  temper  interrupted  her  oration ;  she  shook  Augusta 
violently,  and  condemned  her  to  remain  in  school  until  she 
had  learned  one  of  Mrs.  Chapone's  letters  by  heart.  Then 
she  darted  on  the  smaller  Miss  as  the  primary  cause  of  all, 
shook  her  till  the  little  teeth  chattered,  and  dragged  her  by  the 
lobe  of  the  ear  towards  a  dark  closet,  set  apart  for  heinous 
offenders. 

Something  akin  to  rebellion  had  been  growing  in  Augusta's 
breast  all  the  morning.  She  was  a  girl  of  quick  impulses  and 
sympathies,  and  was  not  only  struck  by  the  disproportion  of 
punishment  meted  out,  but  by  the  terror  on  the  little  one's 
face.  She  threw  herself  in  their  path,  and  to  the  utter  astonish- 
ment alike  of  pupils  and  teachers  laid  hold  of  the  child  to 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  229 

release  her,  exclaiming  as  she  did  so,  "You  shall  not  lock  her 
in  the  dark!  you  will  kill  her  with  fright,  you  cruel  Madame 
Broadbent!" 

If  Madame  Broadbent  had  been  wrathful  before  she  was 
furious  now.  Never  in  her  long  experience  had  she  been  so 
braved.  Without  thought,  without  premeditation,  she  raised  her 
heavy  fan  and  struck  sharply  at  Augusta.  The  blow  fell  on  her 
beautiful  bare  neck,  the  collar-bone  snapped,  as  it  will  do  with 
a  very  slight  matter,  and  Augusta  dropped ! 

Cicily,  waiting  outside  at  the  time,  heard  Madame's  raised 
voice  and  Augusta's  impetuous  remonstrance;  then  a  thud,  a  fall, 
and  a  suppressed  scream  from  the  girls ;  and  without  pausing 
to  knock,  she  pushed  open  the  door.  Cicily  had  been  too  long 
the  recipient  of  Augusta's  school-girl  confidence  to  stand  in  much 
awe  of  Mrs.  Broadbent  at  best  of  times.  Now  she  darted 
forward  to  raise  her  young  mistress,  whom  she  almost  worshipped, 
and  certainly  did  not  consult  either  Madame's  feelings  or  dignity 
in  the  epithets  she  launched  at  her. 

No  one  had  been  more  electrified  at  the  effect  of  that  stroke 
with  the  fan  than  Mrs.  Broadbent's  self.  She  seemed  petrified, 
and  Cicily's  indignant  outburst  fell  on  deaf  ears ;  but  as  Miss 
Nuttall  ran  for  water,  and  Cicily  cried  out  for  a  doctor,  she 
roused  to  self-consciousness,  and  closed  the  school-room  door  as 
if  to  keep  the  outer  world  in  ignorance  of  what  was  going  on 
inside. 

A  wide  latitude  was  then  allowed  for  school  discipline;  but 
even  Madame  Broadbent  was  sensible  that  the  blow  which  had 
felled  Mr.  Ashton's  only  daughter  was  a  blow  to  imperil  her 
seminary. 

Augusta  did  not  revive.  Miss  Nuttall  suggested  that  the 
school  should  be  dismissed,  and  a  doctor  fetched ;  and,  before 
either  could  be  effected,  Jabez  was  on  the  spot.  He  took  in 


230  THE    MANCHESTEk    MAN. 

the  scene  at  a  glance ;  Augusta,  white  as  her  frock,  her  hair 
all  in  disorder,  lay  extended  on  a  form,  her  head  supported  by 
the  kneeling  Cicily,  whilst  excited  girls  and  teachers  flocked 
helplessly  around. 

"  Good  heavens !  what  is  the  matter  ?  What  has  happened  to 
Miss  Ashton?"  was  his  hurried  and  agitated  inquiry. 

One  said  one  thing,  one  another.  Wrathful  Cicily  came 
nearest  to  the  mark.  "That  old  wretch  has  struck  ar  darlin'  wi1 
her  great  fan.  A'm  afeared  her  neckbone's  brokken ! " 

"  Impossible !  She  could  not  be  so  heartless ! "  he  cried,  as 
the  group  made  way  for  him  to  pass,  and  he  knelt  down 
opposite  to  the  sobbing  Cicily,  on  the  other  side  of  the  form, 
and  sprinkled  the  pallid  face  so  dear  to  him  with  water  some 
one  had  brought  in. 

There  was  no  sign  of  revival.  "  My  God !  this  is  terrible ! 
Oh,  madam,  how  could  you  do  it  ?  Mrs.  Ashton  will  be 
distracted ! "  and  he  started  to  his  feet,  inexpressible  anguish  in 
every  feature.  "But  this  is  no  time  for  revilings.  Where  is  the 
nearest  doctor?" 

"  There  is  Mr.  Campbell   in   Hanover  Street — and " 

Brushing  unceremoniously  past  his  informant,  he  was  with  the 
Scotch  surgeon  before  Miss  Nuttall  had  recovered  from  her 
surprise,  or  Madame  from  her  stupor. 

Mr.  Campbell  was  quickly  on  his  way  to  attend  this  new 
patient,  and  Jabez  speeding  towards  the  top  of  Market  Street. 
There  he  hired  a  hackney  coach  from  the  stand,  close  as  he 
was  to  home,  and  drove  straight  to  Dr.  Hull's.  He  bore  the 
doctor  from  his  unfinished  dinner  with  impetuosity,  brooking  no 
delay.  They  found  Augusta  Ashton  faint,  pale,  but  restored  to 
consciousness,  in  Madame's  own  dingy  parlour,  where  the  author 
of  the  mischief  was  doing  her  best  to  put  a  favourable  colour 
on  the  disaster. 


CHAPTER   THE    TWENTY-FIFTH. 


RETROSPECTIVE. 

HE  collar-bone  was  broken  ; 
there  was  no  mistake  about 
that ;  but  Jabez,  mindful  of 
Mrs.  Ashton's  protracted 
anxiety,  lingered  no  longer 
where  he  would  fain  have 
remained  than  to  see  the 
surgeon  prepare — under  Dr. 
Hull's  supervision — to  reduce 
the  fracture ;  a  delicate 
process,  since  to  the  collar- 
bone no  splints  can  be 
applied. 

Augusta's    affection  for 
her  mother  overcame  her  pain. 

"  You  will  be  careful  how  you  tell  mamma,  Jabez,  I  know ; 
do  not  frighten  her  ^more  than  you  can  help  ;  she  will  be  so 
terribly  distressed,"  faintly  murmured  she,  as  he  again  departed. 
With  all  his  haste  and  care,  so  much  time  had  been  spent, 
Mrs.  Ashton's  fears  had  already  conjured  up  all  manner  of  evils, 
all,  of  course,  wide  of  the  mark.  That  something  was  wrong 
she  felt  assured,  and  he  found  her  dressing  to  follow  her 
dilatory  messengers.  The  stoppage  of  the  coach  and  his  evident 


SEDAN    CHAIR. 


232  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

agitation  were  confirmatory ;  but  the  absolute  facts  roused  as 
much  indignation  as  grief. 

Yet  Mrs.  Ashton  never  forgot  herself;  and  though  the  waiting 
coach  bore  her  to  Bradshaw  Street  to  add  her  maternal 
reproaches  to  the  wrathful  utterances  of  Cicily,  the  rough 
rebukes  of  Dr.  Hull,  and  the  prickings  of  Madame  Broadbent's 
own  conscience,  the  natural  dignity  of  her  manner  more  overawed 
and  impressed  the  resentful  schoolmistress  than  all  which  had 
gone  before.  She  was  as  profuse  in  apologies  as  in  extenuating 
pleas,  but  she  was  not  prepared  to  combat  Mrs.  Ashton's 
proverbial  argumentation. 

"Facts  are  stubborn  things,  madam,  and  she  who  cannot 
govern  herself  is  not  fit  to  govern  others." 

Neither  coach-making  nor  road-making  had  reached  the  acme 
of  perfection,  and  Augusta's  removal  home,  without  the 
displacement  of  the  bone,  had  to  be  considered. 

A  sedan  chair — one  of  the  last  in  the  town — was  still  kept  for 
invalid  use  behind  the  Infirmary.  Jabez  was  aware  of  this,  and 
before  Dr.  Hull  could  make  the  suggestion,  he  had  proposed  to 
go  for  it,  and  was  back  with  the  black,  brass-nailed  sedan  long 
before  the  doctors  thought  their  patient  fit  to  be  removed. 

As  the  unfamiliar  vehicle  waited  at  the  "  Academy "  door, 
it  attracted  the  notice  not  only  of  neighbours  and  returning 
schoolgirls,  but  of  passers-by,  until  Madame  Broadbent  was  in  a 
fever.  The  reputation  of  her  school  was  at  stake,  and  she  felt 
that  every  extra  moment  that  hand-carriage  and  wheel-carriage 
remained  standing  there,  the  bruit  of  the  lamentable  occurrence 
was  spreading  farther  afield. 

There  had  been  no  cessation  of  afternoon  school  duties,  albeit 
the  teachers  alone  presided,  and  discipline  was  somewhat  relaxed. 
But  when  patient,  doctors,  friends,  and  vehicles  had  gone  their 
way,  and  the  school  was  soon  after  dismissed,  the  harassed, 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  233 

agitated,  and  prescient  disciplinarian  surrendered  herself  to 
alternate  fits  of  hysteria,  passion,  lamentation,  and  overweening 
assumption. 

That  first  outburst  over,  the  self-important  dame  stood  on  her 
"  right  to  maintain  discipline,"  even  when  confronted  by  Mr. 
Ashton,  no  longer  the  easy-going,  pleasant  parent  of  a  paying 
pupil,  but  the  angry  father  of  an  injured  only  child,  who  had 
posted  from  Whaley  Bridge  on  the  first  intelligence  of  the 
mischance,  leaving  his  business  incomplete. 

Not  alone  to  the  inmates  of  the  house  in  Mosley  Street  was 
Augusta  Ashton  precious.  Notwithstanding  her  sometime 
waywardness  (the  result  of  her  father's  over-indulgence),  she  had 
endeared  herself,  by  her  affectionate  heart  and  winsome  ways, 
to  a  wide  circle  of  friends ;  even  Joshua  Brookes  was  less  grim 
with  Augusta  ;  so  no  wonder  Jabez  was  secretly  devoted  to  her 
heart  and  soul.  Great  and  general  was  the  sympathy  expressed 
on  the  occasion. 

Mrs.  Chadwick  and  Ellen  were  with  Mrs.  Ashton  before  the 
afternoon  was  out,  and  at  Augusta's  eager  desire  her  cousin 
remained  behind,  not  only  for  companionship,  but  as  chief  nurse' 
an  office  for  which  Ellen  had  that  peculiar  fitness  observable  in 
some  women,  coupled  with  the  deftness  and  experience  gained 
in  long  attendance  on  her  father. 

And  now,  leaving  Augusta  in  the  hands  of  love  and  skill, 
with  all  that  affection  and  wealth  can  lavish  upon  her  in 
furtherance  of  recovery,  let  us  step  backwards  to  the  previous 
September,  when  Peterloo  was  fresh,  and  Jabez  yet  wore  his 
left  arm  in  a  sling. 

Whaley  Bridge  has  been  mentioned  more  than  once,  for  in 
that  village,  near  the  high  road  from  Manchester  to  Buxton,  Mr. 
Ashton  possessed  a  water-mill  on  the  picturesque  banks  of  the 
river  Goyt,  which  there  divided  the  counties  of  Cheshire  and 


234  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Derbyshire.  It  had  been  established  in  the  previous  century, 
together  with  another  in  the  contiguous  vale  of  Taxal,  by  a 
speculative  ancestor  of  Mrs.  Ashton,  whose  old  hall  was  in  the 
locality.  The  two  places  had  been  chiefly  colonised  by  his 
workpeople,  many  of  whom  had  been  pauper  apprentices  from 
Manchester  and  Warrington. 

Besides  the  mill,  Mr.  Ashton  owned  the  "White  Hart"  Inn, 
close  to  the  bridge,  where  the  Buxton  coaches  stopped ;  and 
Carr  Cottage,  a  long,  low,  rough-cast  building,  nestling  under  the 
shadow  of  a  fine  old  farmhouse  which  crowned  the  elevated 
ridge  of  Yeardsley-cum-Whaley,  lang-syne  the  Gothic  stone  Hall 
of  the  warlike  Yeardsleys. 

From  this  farmhouse  Carr  Cottage  was  separated  by  a  retired 
walk  at  the  back,  which — itself  a  wilderness  of  nettles,  gave  access 
to  the  cellarage  and  a  clear  well — led  the  adventurer  away 
up  the  hill  between  the  cottage  grounds  and  the  farmer's  tall 
high-banked  hedges,  which  almost  overtopped  the  cottage  roof. 
And  on  the  left  of  the  cottage  (as  viewed  from  the  high  road) 
spread  the  granaries,  stabling,  and  farmyard,  enclosed  by  remains 
of  the  ancient  wall,  and  entered  by  a  step  or  two  through  an 
ancient  Gothic  doorway,  over  which  ivy  and  honeysuckle  clambered 
in  luxurious  rivalry. 

The  cottage,  which  on  each  floor  contained  four  capacious 
rooms  in  its  length,  was  on  the  ground  divided  in  the  middle 
by  a  respectable  lobby — the  house-place  and  kitchen  lying  on 
the  left,  the  parlours  to  the  right  as  you  entered.  There  were 
two  staircases,  one  at  each  end  of  the  building,  the  one  running 
upwards  in  the  kitchen  itself,  the  other  from  a  small  enclosed 
space  at  the  back  of  a  parlour,  containing  also  a  china  closet 
door,  and  lit  by  a  low  window  close  to  the  foot  of  the  staircase, 
whence  it  was  possible  to  step  out  into  the  garden,  unseen  by 
anyone  in  the  house.  Otherwise,  both  chambers  and  parlours 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  235 

had  doors  of  communication  from  end  to  end  of  the  building, 
the  two  middle  chambers  being  only  accessible  through  the 
others. 

The  lower  windows  in  the  front — at  least,  those  of  the  large 
parlours— were  brought  close  to  the  ground,  and  overlooked  a 
charming  landscape ;  descending,  at  first  suddenly,  from  the 
widespread  flower  garden  (with  its  one  great  sycamore  to  the 
right  of  the  cottage  for  shade),  then  with  a  gradual  slope  to  a 
beanfield  below,  to  a  meadow  crossed  by  a  narrow  rill ;  then, 
after  a  wider  stretch  of  grass,  the  alder  and  hazel  fringe  of  a 
trout  stream,  skirting  the  high  road,  on  the  far  side  of  which 
tall  poplars  waved,  and  in  autumn  shed  their  leaves  in  the  wider 
waters  of  the  Goyt  fresh  from  the  bridge,  where  the  road  bends. 
Rivulets,  road,  and  river  ran  parallel.  And  from  the  road  a 
broad  wooden  gate  gave  access  (over  a  bridge  across  the  trout 
stream)  to  a  wide,  steep  avenue  between  trim  hedges,  rising 
to  the  level  of  the  cottage,  in  itself  as  delightful  a  retreat  as 
any  wearied  denizen  of  town  could  desire.  To  Mr.  Ashton  it 
was  necessary  as  an  adjunct  to  his  factory;  an  occasional  home 
for  his  family  in  the  summer,  a  lodge  for  himself  when  a  visit 
of  inspection  was  desirable. 

Hearing  that  the  general  discontent  was  spreading  amongst 
his  own  workpeople  at  Whaley  Bridge,  Mr.  Ashton,  without 
waiting  for  the  stage  coach,  put  himself  into  a  long-skirted  drab 
overcoat,  with  high  collar  and  small  double  cape,  ordered  reluctant 
James  to  "find  another  for  Clegg,"  and  having  stowed  away  a 
carpet  bag  and  a  case  of  pistols,  lest  they  should  be  molested 
on  the  road,  he  mounted  his  high  gig,  with  Jabez  by  his  side, 
and  set  off  to  "take  the  bull  by  the  horns,"  as  Mrs.  Ashton 
had  advised. 

Away  they  drove  through  the  mild  September  air,  up  London 
Road  (where  houses  had  been  growing  in  the  years  since  we 


236  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

scanned  it  last)  and  past  Ardwick  Green  Pond,  where  a  dashing 
young  buck,  booted  and  spurred,  lounged  at  the  door  of  the  quaint 
"  George  and  Dragon,"  and  followed  them  curiously  with  his  eyes ; 
yet  not  so  swiftly  but  Jabez  had  time  to  recognise  with 
accelerated  pulse  his  former  assailant,  Laurence. 

Longsight,  Burnage,  Fallowfield  left  behind ;  Stockport  Bridge 
gained,  they  went  walking  by  their  horse's  head  up  the  steep  hill, 
between  frowning  houses,  to  the  "  Pack  Horse "  in  the  Market 
Place,  where  the  beast  was  baited,  and  the  travellers  dined  at 
the  same  table,  Jabez  not  for  one  moment  forgetting  the  social 
distance  between  his  master  and  himself. 

Again  seated,  they  quickly  left  the  smoke-begrimed,  higgledy- 
piggledy  mass  of  brick  and  mortar  called  'Stockport'  behind,  and 
were  away  on  country  roads,  where  yellow  leaves  were  blown 
into  their  faces,  where  brown-faced,  white-headed  cottage  children 
were  stripping  blackberries  from  the  wayside  brambles,  or  ripe 
nuts  from  the  luxuriant  hazels  which  have  since  changed  the  very 
name  of  the  Bullock  Smithy,  through  which  they  drove  at  a 
gallop,  to  Hazel  Grove. 

It  was  a  glorious  treat  for  Jabez,  was  that  drive,  and  Mr. 
Ashton,  conversing  with  him  as  they  went,  was  surprised  to 
discover  his  love  of  Nature,  and  his  knowledge  of  her  secrets. 
This  induced  reminiscences  of  the  early  years  of  Jabez  when 
Simon  took  him  pick-a-back  into  the  fields  on  Sundays ;  and  Mr. 
Ashton  led  him  on  to  dilate  on  his  childhood  among  his  first 
friends,  until  he  had  a  closer  insight  into  the  young  man's  heart 
than  in  all  the  years  he  had  served  them. 

But  the  object  of  their  journey  had  not  been  forgotten ;  and 
at  Disley,  hearing  Mr.  Ashton  remark  that  they  were  but  three 
miles  from  Whaley  Bridge,  Jabez  ventured  to  suggest — 

''Do  you  not  think,  sir,  as  I  am  unknown  in  Whaley  Bridge,  I 
might  make  enquiries,  and  ascertain  the  feeling  of  the  people 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  237 

better  if  I  went  on  foot,  having  no  apparent  connection  with  you?" 

"  That  is  a  wise  thought  of  yours,  young  man.  Just  so.  I  will 
put  you  down  at  the  next  milestone.  Here  is  a  guinea  for  your 
expenses  at  the  'White  Hart.'  But  country  people  are  inquisitive; 
what  do  you  propose  to  be?" 

"Well,  sir,  I  took  the  liberty  to  bring  a  sketch-book  with  me 
— I  don't  get  many  such  opportunities — I  could  represent  myself 
as  an  artist ;  or  I  could  cram  my  pockets  with  plants  and  roots 
as  I  went  along,  and  say  I  was  a  botanist  in  search  of  specimens." 

"  Stick  to  the  artist,  Jabez ;  our  country  botanists  would  soon 
floor  you  on  their  own  ground — they  know  more  of  plants  than 
pencils,  I'll  warrant."  And  Mr.  Ashton,  handing  the  reins  to 
Jabez,  took  a  pinch  of  snuff  on  the  strength  of  it 

Mr.  Ashton,  putting  up  the  collar  of  his  topcoat,  drove  direct 
to  Carr,  much  to  the  surprise  of  his  unprepared  overlooker  and 
wife,  who  had  charge  of  the  cottage.  He  said  nothing  of  any 
companion ;  and  Jabez  some  twenty  minutes  later  walked  into 
the  bar  of  the  "White  Hart,"  dusty  and  weary,  as  if  with  long 
walking ;  called  for  bread-and-cheese  and  ale ;  intimated  his 
intention  to  remain  the  night,  if  he  could  have  a  bed ;  talked  of 
the  scenery,  and  led  the  host  to  tell  of  the  best  points  for 
sketching. 

Professing  fatigue,  he  kept  his  seat  in  the  bar-parlour  the 
remainder  of  the  day.  The  sling,  not  yet  wholly  discarded,  drew 
attention,  as  he  expected  it  would.  The  incomers,  eyeing  him 
askance,  talked  politics  before  him,  and  finding  him  less  glib  than 
themselves,  whispered  that  he  was  a  refugee  from  Peterloo,  and, 
to  show  their  sympathy  with  the  party  to  which  he  was  supposed 
to  belong,  freely  discussed  the  political  aspect  of  the  district 
before  him. 

He  was  young,  free  with  his  money,  and  they  were  not  reticent. 
He  found  that  the  overlooker  had  made  himself,  and  his  master 


238  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

through   himself,   obnoxious  to  his   weavers,  and  that  only  prompt 
measures   would  prevent  an   outbreak. 

The  next  morning  Mr.  Ashton  put  his  head  into  the  inn, 
greeted  "  Mr.  Clegg "  as  some  one  he  was  surprised  to  meet  in  so 
remote  a  spot,  and  invited  him  to  Carr  Cottage. 

Jabez  accepted  the  invitation  for  the  afternoon,  saying  he  could 
not  spare  the  morning.  Under  pretence  of  sketching,  he  took  his 
way  by  the  Goyt  to  the  neighbourhood  of  the  mill  with  pencils 
and  sketch-book ;  women  and  children  flocked  inquisitively  round 
him  in  their  dinner-hour,  and  talked  to  him;  then  he  rested  in  a 
weaver's  cot,  and  when  he  found  his  way  to  Carr  in  the  afternoon, 
and  sat  with  Mr.  Ashton  for  privacy  under  the  dropping  keys  of 
the  sycamore,  he  had  brought  with  him  the  key  to  the  prevailing 
discontent. 

Mr.  Ashton  listened,  took  an  enormous  quantity  of  snuff, 
dropped  an  occasional  "Just  so,"  and,  knowing  the  sore,  set  about 
healing  it.  He  drove  back  to  Manchester,  leaving  Jabez  as  his 
temporary  deputy — high  honour  for  so  young  a  man — and  the 
overlooker  was  required  to  render  up  his  accounts. 

A  fortnight  later,  as  Jabez  was  midway  up  the  avenue  to  Carr 
in  the  afternoon,  he  turned,  hearing  the  blithe  bugle  of  the  coming 
Buxton  coach,  and  watched  its  dashing  progress  along  the  road. 
To  his  astonishment  it  stopped  at  the  gate.  He  himself  reached 
the  spot  at  a  run. 

His  eyes  had  not  played  him  false.  Simon  Clegg,  in  his 
best  clothes,  was  there  on  the  box  seat ;  Tom  Hulme  and 
Bess  and  little  Sim  sat  close  behind  him.  Mr.  Ashton  was  himself 
an  inside  passenger. 

In  the  bustle  and  confusion  of  alighting,  and  dragging  boxes 
from  the  boot  and  from  the  top,  curiosity  was  kept  on  the  stretch. 
It  was  not  until  the  entire  party  were  under  the  roof  of  the  cottage 
that  Jabez  was  enlightened.  Tom  Hulme  was  the  new  overlooker, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  239 

Bess  the  new  caretaker  of  Carr  Cottage,  which  was  henceforth 
their  rural  rent-free  home ;  and  to  Simon,  long  disqualified  by 
rheumatism  for  the  wet  and  slush  of  the  tannery,  was  given  the 
charge  of  the  garden,  with  a  boy  under  him.  And  of  all  the 
group  old  Simon  and  little  Sim  were  most  delighted. 

Some  eight  months  before,  Sim  (then  about  two  years  old)  had 
slipped  on  the  frosty  stones  in  the  old  Long  Millgate  Yard,  and, 
rolling  down  its  rugged  declivity,  was  supposed  to  have  injured 
his  spine,  and  he  had  been  too  delicate  ever  since  to  run  about 
freely.  To  the  child,  therefore,  whose  shoulders  seemed  unnaturally 
high,  the  change  from  the  stifling  court  was  something  too 
exuberant  for  expression.  To  Simon  Clegg,  who,  in  losing  his 
crony  Matt,  had  felt  the  old  haunts  oppressive,  the  bountiful 
expanse  of  nature  before  him,  and  the  comfortable  fragrant  home, 
were  matters  for  deep  thankfulness. 

"Moi  lad,"  said  he  to  Jabez,  when  the  latter  was  about  to 
depart  with  Mr.  Ashton,  after  they  were  fairly  inducted,  "  ar 
Bess  said  thah  would  be  a  Godsend  to  us,  an'  thah  has  bin. 
This  Paradise  o'  posies  has  o'  grown  eawt  o'  thy  cradle.  God 
bless  thee!" 

"  I  think,  my  dear,  the  experiment  will  succeed.  There  is  a 
matronly  air  of  respectability  about  Mrs.  Hulme  that  will  help 
to  uphold  her  husband's  position  amongst  the  workpeople,  and 
I  can  trust  his  soldierly  discipline  for  keeping  the  rebellious  in 
order." 

Thus  said  Mr.  Ashton  to  his  good  lady,  sitting  by  the  fireside 
after  supper,  the  night  of  his  return  home.  Then,  after  a  little 
pondering  and  trifling  with  his  snuff-box,  he  added,  as  if 
reflectively — 

"  It  is  all  very  well,  my  dear,  to  serve  the  young  man's 
friends  and  ourselves  at  the  same  time,  but  I  should  like  to  do 
something  for  Jabez  himself.  It  is  entirely  to  his  clear  head 


240 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


and  his  tact  that  we  owe  the  preservation  of  peace  at  Whaley 
Bridge.  I  should  like  to  give  him  a  rise." 

"  My  dear  William,  make  no  more  haste  than  good  speed, 
and  never  do  things  in  a  hurry,"  replied  his  calm  proverbial 
philosopher.  "We  must  not  excite  the  envy  of  his  fellow-clerks, 
or  we  shall  surround  him  with  enemies  from  the  first.  In 
removing  his  humble  friends  you  have  cleared  one  barrier  to  his 
advancement." 

Mr.  Ashton  did  not  say  "Just  so!"  for  a  wonder;  he  turned 
his  gold  box  round  and  round  in  his  fingers,  and  at  length 
gave  utterance  to  a  thought  which  took  Mrs.  Ashton  by  surprise. 

"If  we  remove  all  the  young  man's  old  associations,  don't 
you  think  we  ought  to  provide  him  with  new  ones  ? " 

"  I  think,  William,  we  ought  to  '  leave  well  alone ; '  smooth 
paths  are  slippery  paths.  The  young  man  will  be  out  of  his 
time  in  six  months ;  you  can  then  advance  him  if  you  think 
proper — in  the  warehouse — but  I  do  not  feel  disposed  to  open 
our  drawing-room  to  him,  if  that  is  what  you  are  driving  at ; " 
and  she  drew  herself  up  as  if  her  dignity  had  received  a  blow. 

"  We-11,  no — not  exactly ! "  and  Mr.  Ashton,  unable  to  express 
what  he  did  mean  exactly,  shuffled  and  fidgeted  till  he  upset 
his  snuff  on  the  Brussels  carpet. 


CHAPTER    THE  TWENTY-SIXTH. 

ON    THE    PORTICO    STEPS. 

ETWEEN  that  expedition  to  Whaley  Bridge,  with  its 
terminal  connubial  conversation,  and  the  breakage  of 
Augusta  Ashton's  collar-bone,  rather  more  than  six 
months  intervened — six  months  during  which  Mr. 
Clegg,  as  his  good  master  had  anticipated,  felt  the  solitary 
state  of  his  trim  sitting-room  somewhat  oppressive,  the  permission 
to  receive  his  old  friends  becoming  a  nullity  on  their  removal. 
He  occupied  a  position  midway  between  parlour  and  kitchen — 
above  his  old  associates  of  the  porringers,  the  fireside  settle,  and 
the  sanded  stone  floor,  and  beneath  the  family  seated  round 
the  tea-urn  on  cushioned  chairs  and  Brussels  carpet.  Towards 
the  former  he  cast  few  backward  looks  of  regret — he  had  put 
his  past  behind  him — but,  oh !  who  shall  tell  his  unuttered 
longings  for  the  "Open  Sesame  I"  to  that  paradise  of  which  he 
had  had  one  rapturous  glimpse,  and  one  only — that  paradise 
where  his  master's  daughter,  so  high  above  him,  moved  like  a 
seraph,  and  filled  the  air  with  harmony ! 

I  am  afraid  that  at  this  time  he  brooded  over  his 
orphanhood  and  that  unknown  father  who  had  disappeared  so 
mysteriously,  and  strained  his  soaring  thoughts  in  their  flight 
towards  possibilities  more  than  was  good  for  him.  He  was  too 
much  alone  for  one  of  his  years,  and  there  were  times  in  those 
long,  candle-lit  winter  evenings  when  books  and  pencils  dropped 


242  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

from   his    wearied   hands,   and   for    lack   of   a   companion    he   held 
dreamy   converse  with   the  fire. 

Of  course  his  library  was  restricted,  and  there  were  no 
institutions  in  Manchester  at  that  time  where  young  men  of 
his  class  could  meet  for  mutual  improvement,  or  that  mental 
polish  caused  by  the  attrition  of  mind  upon  mind.  Occasionally, 
at  long  intervals,  and  at  first  to  the  utter  confusion  of  James, 
Captain  Travis  had  inquired  for  "Mr.  Clegg,"  and  been  shown 
into  the  little  sitting-room  with  a  disregard  to  "  caste "  very 
creditable  to  both  of  them ;  and  now  and  then  Mr.  Chadwick 
and  Mr.  Ashton  would  drop  in  together  for  half-an-hour's  chat, 
the  gratitude  of  the  former  being  deeper  than  the  surface. 

But  rarely  did  a  feminine  face  save  Cicily's  brighten  up  his 
solitude,  and  she,  devoted  to  her  young  mistress,  had  always 
something  to  say  about  Augusta,  if  only  what  she  wore  or  how 
she  looked,  which  sent  him  off  into  dreamland  immediately. 

Sunday  was  a  very  chequered  day ;  when  he  missed  his  old 
friends  most.  True,  he  followed  the  family  to  church,  perhaps 
carried  Augusta's  prayer-book,  exchanged  a  word  of  kindly 
greeting  with  old  Mrs.  Clowes  and  Parson  Brookes,  who  was  not 
as  hale  as  he  had  been  ;  but  there  was  no  old  Simon  to  grip 
his  hand,  no  Bess  to  give  him  a  motherly  smile,  and  unless 
the  weather  was  fine  enough  for  a  ramble  in  the  fields  with 
Nelson  for  companion,  the  rest  of  the  day  was  very  dull  indeed. 

The  fan  which  broke  Augusta's  collar-bone  broke  down  a 
barrier  for  Jabez.  No  personal  sacrifice  attended  the  service  he 
rendered.  He  but  went  and  came  as  an  active  messenger. 
But  he  went  and  came  with  intelligence  and  promptitude,  and 
exercised  for  mother  and  daughter  both  the  care  and  forethought 
of  a  much  older  man. 

In  the  father's  absence  the  father  was  not  missed.  What 
came  under  Mrs.  Ashton's  own  eye  Mrs,  Ashton  could  appreciate. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


243 


and   the  commendation  of  Dr.  Hull  was   not  without  its  weight. 
He   had   said — 

"  Capital  fellow  to  send  for  a  doctor,  that  messenger  of  yours, 
Mrs.  Ashton !  A  determined,  persistent  fellow !  Would  see 
me  and  haul  me  off  with  only  half  a  dinner,  though  I  protested 
and  he  had  already  got  a  surgeon  there  before  me  ! " 

His  thought  about  the  sedan  chair,  which  he  had  accompanied 
to  Mosley  Street  to  insure  care  on  the  part  of  the  chair-men, 
and  had  ordered  into  the  very  lobby  of  the  house,  the  cautious 
manner  in  which  he  had  lifted  Augusta  thence  and  borne  her 
to  the  ready  couch,  coupled  with  his  protection  of  her  daughter 
in  the  theatre  the  night  before,  weighed  down  the  scale  already 
trembling  in  the  balance,  and  Mrs.  Ashton's  "  Jabez,  I  am 
deeply  indebted  to  you,"  was  not  mere  words.  He  was  her 
messenger  to  the  Chadwicks,  her  amanuensis  to  Mr.  Ashton,  and 
when  Ellen  and  her  mother  arrived  somewhere  about  tea-time 
for  the  second  occasion  he  was  invited  to  join  their  party ;  and 
one,  if  not  two,  pair  of  cheeks  burned  as  the  invitation  was  given. 

Then,  the  night  Mr.  Ashton  returned  home,  to  find  Augusta 
an  invalid,  he  was  gratified  to  see  Jabez  again  at  the  tea-table, 
and  after  that  at  odd  times,  until  the  restraint  upon  him 
gradually  wore  away,  and  he  would  read  to  Augusta  and  Ellen, 
as  the  latter  sat  at  work,  and  do  his  best  to  make  the  time 
pass  pleasantly. 

Next  Mr.  Ashton  took  it  into  his  head  to  teach  him 
backgammon  and  cribbage,  to  help  to  make  his  own  evenings 
at  home  more  lively. 

And  Mrs.  Chadwick,  who  for  some  occult  reason  had  resisted 
her  husband's  desire  to  show  courtesy  to  his  preserver,  could 
scarcely  be  less  gracious  than  her  grander  sister,  who  owed  him  so 
much  less ;  so  now  the  green-parlour  door  in  Oldham  Street 
was  opened  to  him,  and  as  Jabez  refreshed  his  memory  with 


244  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

Hogarth's  prints,  he  felt  that  he  had  made  another  step  up  the 
ladder. 

Those  were  halcyon  days  ;  while  Augusta,  too  tall  to  be  robust, 
recovered  so  slowly,  and  was  so  much  gratified  by  his  attempts 
to  entertain  her.  Halcyon  days  for  more  than  one. 

Yet,  ere  Jabez  was  out  of  his  apprenticeship,  or  Augusta  had 
left  her  pillowed  sofa,  a  pebble  was  thrown  into  the  stream 
which  broke  the  surface  of  the  tranquil  waters,  and  disturbed 
them  for  ever. 

Mr.  Ashton  was  one  of  the  original  shareholders  in  the  Portico, 
a  classic  stone  building  erected  in  1806  as  a  library  and  reading- 
room,  on  the  other  side  of  Mosley  Street,  which,  with  its  pillared 
facade  and  flight  of  steps,  like  an  Ionic  temple,  looked  down  on 
the  plain  red-brick  front  of  the  Assembly  Rooms,  though  its 
opposite  neighbour  stood  quite  as  high  in  repute,  and  was  equally 
exclusive  in  its  constitution. 

Mr.  Aspinall,  the  Cannon  Street  cotton-merchant  (who  dined 
with  the  Scramble  Club,  instituted  by  business  men  whose 
homes  were  in  the  suburbs),  was  likewise  a  shareholder  in  the 
Portico ;  and  from  constant  meeting  at  the  long  tables  within 
the  book-shelved,  galleried  walls  of  its  lofty  reading-room,  he 
and  Mr.  Ashton  had  a  tolerably  lengthy  acquaintance,  although 
it  had  never  ripened  into  intimacy — the  men  were  so  dissimilar. 

Charlotte  Walmsley  was  naturally  troubled  by  the  result  of 
Madame  Broadbent's  notions  of  discipline,  and  not  unnaturally 
(considering  the  condition  in  which  Ben  Travis  had  taken  him 
home)  blamed  her  husband  as  the  primary  cause.  As  naturally 
he  shifted  the  onus  to  the  shoulders  of  Laurence  Aspinall,  and, 
taking  him  to  task,  plainly  told  him  he  ought  to  apologise. 
Laurence  snatched  at  the  proposal. 

"  My  dear  Jack,  nothing  would  please  me  better !  I'll  make  a 
thousand  apologies,  if  you'll  only  introduce  me." 


BY    THE    PORTICO    STEPS. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  245 

John  Walmsley  had  had  quite  enough  of  introductions ; 
besides,  he  stood  in  some  awe  of  Mrs.  Ashton,  and  did  not  know 
how  she  might  take  it,  especially  as  his  friend  Aspinall  had 
acquired  the  character  of  a  "  wild  spark."  He  emphatically 
declined.  But  if  Laurence  Aspinall  once  set  his  mind  on  a 
thing  he  would  attain  it,  if  within  the  range  of  possibility, 
whether  by  fair  means  or  foul,  whatever  might  be  the  con- 
sequences. 

For  a  few  days  he  was  on  his  best  behaviour  at  home ;  and 
having  won  his  father  over  by  expressions  of  deep  contrition, 
and  promises  of  reformation,  and  the  assurance  that  he  would 
never  again  do  anything  "  unbecoming  a  gentleman,"  he  prevailed 
on  him  to  introduce  him  to  Mr.  Ashton,  with  a  view  to  making 
his  own  apologies  in  person. 

'•Well,  Laurence,  you  can  go  with  me  to  the  Portico  to-morrow 
morning,  and  if  Mr.  Ashton  is  there  we  will  see  what  can  be 
done ; "  the  tone  in  which  this  was  said  clearly  implying,  "  If  we 
seek  an  introduction  to  the  Ashton's  for  the  purpose  of  making 
the  amende  honorable  as  befits  gentlemen,  there  can  be  no  doubt 
of  its  acceptance. 

But  when  they  met  Mr.  Ashton  on  the  steps  of  the  Portico 
the  following  morning;  the  self-complacence  of  the  lofty  gentleman 
received  a  slight  but  uncontemplated  check.  Mr.  Ashton  nodded 
to  Mr.  Aspinall  with  a  beaming  face,  and  would  have  passed 
his  acquaintance  with  a  mere  "  Good  morning,"  but  the  other 
stopped,  and  after  shaking  hands,  and  remarking  that  trade  was 
slack,  presented,  with  due  formality,  the  handsome,  elegant,  six 
feet  of  dandyism  who  bore  him  company. 

"  Mr.  Ashton,  let  me  make  you  acquainted  with  my  son,  sir — 
Mr.  Ashton,  my  son  Laurence  ;  Laurence,  Mr.  Ashton." 

The  young  gentleman  raised  his  stylish  beaver  from  his  rich 
coppery  curls,  and  bowed  with  courtly  grace  in  acknowledgment 


246  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

of  Mr.  Ashton's  formal  bow,  whilst  his  father  continued,  almost 
in  the  tone  of  one  who  confers  an  honour — 

"The  fact  is,  my  son,  sir,  desires  an  opportunity  of  expressing 
to  Miss  Ashton  his  deep  regret  for  the  indiscretion  of  which  he 
was  guilty  in  the  lobby  of  the  Theatre  Royal,  some  ten  days  back." 

The  smile  faded  from  the  face  of  Mr,  Ashton,  who,  with  a 
reserve  very  foreign  to  him,  put  his  hand  into  his  pocket  for  his 
snuff-box  instead  of  extending  it  to  the  young  man,  and,  tapping 
it  with  a  little  impatience,  caught  at  his  words. 

"Indiscretion,  sir?  What  you  are  pleased  to  call  'indiscretion' 
has  placed  my  daughter  in  the  doctor's  hands  with  a  broken 
collar-bone." 

Before  Mr.  Aspinall  could  reply,  Laurence,  better  skilled  to 
temporise,  interposed. 

"So,  to  my  infinite  regret,  my  friend  Mr.  Walmsley  has  already 
informed  me,  sir.  And  I  assure  you,  I  take  shame  to  myself  that 
any  word  or  action  of  mine  should  have  led  to  consequences  so 
lamentable.  No  one,  sir,  can  deplore  the  injury  Miss  Ashton  has 
sustained,  more  than  myself — the  unhappy  cause.  It  is  this,  Mr. 
Ashton,  which  impels  me  to  seek  an  opportunity  to  express  the 
sensibilty  of  my  grave  offence,  and  my  extreme  regret,  to  Mrs. 
Ashtcn  and  Miss  Ashton  in  person.  I  cannot  rest  until  I  have 
implored  their  pardon  !" 

The  tones  in  which  this  apolegetic  speech  was  delivered  were 
at  once  so  suave,  remorseful,  and  sympathetic  that  Mr.  Ashton, 
whose  sternness  was  seldom  of  long  duration,  was  considerably 
mollified.  He  looked  at  the  handsome,  dashing  blade  before  him, 
whose  blue  eyes  seem  full  of  gentleness  and  pity,  and  felt  as 
though  the  boy  he  had  seen  torturing  old  Brookes,  and  the 
yeomanry  officer  who  had  slashed  at  Mr.  Chadwick  and  Jabez 
Clegg,  could  never  be  one  and  the  same.  He  reverted  to  the 
latter  circumstance — 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  247 

"  I  think,  young  sir,  you  owe  an  apology  to  someone  else  under 
my  roof — the  young  man  who  received  the  sabre-cut  you  designed 
for  my  brother-in-law,  Mr.  Chadwick." 

Aspinall's  handsome  face  flushed.  His  father's  quick  reply 
gave  him  time  to  think. 

"You  surely,  Mr.  Ashton,  would  not  expect  my  son  to 
apologise  to  an  apprentice-lad,  a  mere  College-boy." 

"Just  so!  I  would  expect  him  to  apologise  to  anyone  he  had 
injured,  were  it  a  beggar!" 

Here  the  son  interposed :  "  My  good  sir,  do  not  remind  me  of 
the  horrors  of  that  dreadful  day !  I  shudder  when  I  recall  it.  We 
acted  under  orders,  and  I  swear  I  was  utterly  unconscious  and 
irresponsible  for  my  actions  throughout  the  whole  affray." 

And  Laurence  seemed  desirous  to  wash  his  hands  of  the 
responsibility. 

"The  fact  is,"  said  Mr.  Aspinall,  coming  to  his  son's  rescue, 
"Laurence  had  taken  more  wine  than  his  young  head  would  stand 
on  both  occasions.  It  takes  years  to  season  a  cask,  you  know, 
Mr.  Ashton,  and  we  must  not  be  too  hard  on  young  fellows,  if 
they  slip  sometimes.  We  have  all  had  some  wild  oats  to  sow." 

This  was  a  platitude  of  the  period,  but  Mr.  Ash  ton's  "Just  so!" 
was  not  a  cordial  assent;  and  Laurence,  fearing  the  conversation 
was  taking  an  unfortunate  turn,  led  it  back  to  its  original  request. 
But  Mr.  Ashton  tapped  his  box,  and,  offering  it  to  his  interlocutors, 
took  a  pinch  himself,  and  then  a  second,  before  he  came  to  a 
decision.  It  was  evidently  a  debatable  question. 

"  I  will  mention  your  request  to  Mrs.  Ashton,  young  gentleman, 
and  if  I  find  her  agreeable  to  receive  you,  I  can  take  you  across 
with  me  to-morrow  morning,  provided  you  meet  me  here. 
Good  day." 

Mr.  Aspinall's  "Good  day"  was  somewhat  stiff.  He  had  held 
his  head  very  high  all  his  life,  metaphorically  as  well  as  physically, 


248  THE   MANCHESTER    MAN. 

and  was  not  disposed  to  be  snubbed  by  one  whose  status  he 
considered  scarcely  on  a  par  with  his  own.  He  was  disposed  to 
look  on  his  son's  peccadilloes  as  some  of  those  "  wild  oats "  which 
young  gentlemen  of  spirit  were  expected  to  sow,  and  considered 
his  fine  figure  and  beautiful  features,  his  education,  accomplishments, 
and  prospects,  passports  to  any  society ;  and  that  Mr.  Ashton 
should  for  one  moment  hesitate  to  open  his  heart  and  his  doors 
to  his  son,  was  an  indignity  not  to  be  borne. 

"  The  fact  is,  Laurence,  that,  if  you  make  an  apology  to  those 
people  after  this,  you  have  less  spirit  than  I  take  you  to  have!" 
was  his  conclusion. 

"  Never  you  mind,  father,  I  know  what  I'm  about.  I  want 
to  get  my  foot  in  there,"  answered  subtle  Laurence.  And  he 
managed  it 

Mr.  Ashton  went  home  to  dinner  full  of  his  conversation  on 
the  Portico  steps,  and  set  his  romantic  daughter's  heart  in  a  flutter 
by  mooting  the  point  at  issue  in  her  presence. 

"  Oh,  papa !  do  bring  him ;  I  want  to  see  him  again,  he  is  so 
handsome!" 

"'Handsome  is  that  handsome  does,'  Augusta,"  was  Mrs. 
Ashton's  commentary  on  that  young  lady's  impulsive  exclamation. 

"Charlotte  says  he  is  very  wild,"  remarked  Ellen,  "and  I  feel 
as  if  I  should  shudder  at  the  sight  of  him,  after  his  conduct  at 
Peterloo." 

"You  don't  shudder  when  Captain  Travis  calls,  and  you  don't 
shut  the  door  in  John  Walmsley's  face,  and  they  may  have  done 
things  just  as  bad,  if  you  did  but  know  it,  Ellen,"  retorted 
Augusta,  standing  on  the  defensive  for  the  absent  "Adonis." 

"Just  so  my  dear,  so  they  might,"  admitted  Mr.  Ashton,  whilst 
Ellen  held  her  peace,  silenced  by  something  in  her  cousin's  retort. 

"Yes,  William,  but  look  on  the  poor  bandaged  neck  and 
shoulders  of  our  child,  and  think  of  that  ruffian's  cruelty  to 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  249 

Jabez  and  others  when  a  schoolboy.  I  don't  think  either  John 
Walmsley  or  Mr.  Travis  could  have  done  anything  so  bad." 

"  Well,  but,  mamma,"  argued  spoiled  Augusta,  "  Jabez  forgave 
him ;  and  I  think  Madame  Broadbent  is  more  to  blame  than 
Mr.  Aspinall — he  only  offered  to  bring  me  home." 

Mrs.  Ashton   shook   her  head  as   she   rose   from   table. 

"  Besides,  mamma,  he  says  he  only  wants  to  apologise,  and 
you  know  you  need  not  invite  him  again  unless  you  like.  It 
would  be  so  rude  to  refuse. 

"Just  so,  just  so,"  assented  Mr.  Ashton,  willing  to  humour 
his  pet  in  her  invalid  state,  and  perhaps  it  might  do  the  young 
fellow  good  to  see  the  consequences  of  his  folly. 

As  usual,  where  Augusta  enlisted  her  father  on  her  side, 
Mrs.  Ashton's  dissent  grew  feebler, 

The  next  day  Mr.  Ashton  made  at  least  one  false  step  in  his 
life,  and  brought  over  his  own  threshold  a  blight. 

Faultless  were  the  curves  of  the  stylish  hat,  faultless  the  fit  of 
pantaloons,  and  coat,  and  Hessian  boots,  and  York-tan  gloves ; 
graceful  the  figure  they  adorned;  graceful  the  apology  tendered 
so  adroitly — more  to  the  mother  than  to  the  daughter — but  if 
ever  a  graceless  good-for-nothing  cast  a  shadow  on  a  good  man's 
hearth,  it  was  the  wolf  in  sheep's  clothing  whose  hungry  jaws 
were  watering  for  the  pet  lamb  of  the  fold,  and  who  made  so 
courtly  an  exit  full  in  the  sight  of  Jabez,  as  he  crossed  the  end 
of  the  hall  to  his  solitary  dinner  in  his  own  room. 


CHAPTER    THE    TWENTY-SEVENTH. 

MANHOOD. 


yOUNG  as  he  was,  Laurence  Aspinall  was  wont  to  say 
he    "wouldn't  give    a    fig    for    any    man    who    could 
not  be  anything  in  any  society;"   and  the   Laurence 
Aspinall  of  the  cock-pit,  the  ring,  and  the  bar-parlour, 
was   a  very   different  being    from    the    Laurence    Aspinall   of    the 
Assembly  or  drawing-room.      He   could   be  a  blackguard   amongst 
blackguards,  a  gentleman  amongst  ladies. 

Nature  had  done  much  for  him,  art  had  done  more.  Nature 
had  given  him  at  twenty-one  a  symmetrical  figure,  and  art  an 
easy  carriage.  Nature  had  given  him  the  clear  pink-and-white 
complexion  which  so  often  accompanies  ruddy  hair,  and  art  had 
trained  his  early  growth  of  whisker  to  counteract  effeminacy  of 
skin.  Nature  had  given  him  a  lofty  forehead,  art  had  clustered 
his  bronze  curls  so  as  to  hide  how  much  that  brow  receded. 
Nature  had  given  an  aquiline  nose,  eyes  of  purest  azure,  flexile 
lips  with  curves  like  Cupid's  bow;  and  art  had  taught  that  eyes 
set  so  close,  whose  hue  was  so  apt  to  change  as  temper  swayed 
him,  and  lips  so  cruelly  thin,  might  be  tutored  to  obey  volition, 
and  contradict  themselves,  if  so  their  owner  willed.  To  crown 
all,  Nature  had  gifted  him  with  a  flexible  voice,  and  art  had  set 
it  to  music. 

The  Liverpool  schoolmaster  had  obeyed  Mr.  Aspinall's  instruc- 
tions to  the  letter;  all  that  education  and  accomplishments  could 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


251 


do  to  polish  and  refine  the  physical  man  into  the  gentleman,  as 
the  word  was  then  understood,  had  been  done  for  him ;  but 
under  the  stucco  was  the  rough  brickwork  Bob  the  groom  had 
heaped  together,  and  which  no  trained  or  loving  hand  had 
removed. 

Be  sure  Laurence  Aspinall  did  not  carry  this  analysis  into 
society,  written  on  his  forehead.  Instead,  he  had  cultivated  the 
art  of  fascination ;  and  in  the  brief  space  occupied  by  that 
apologetic  introductory  visit  in  Mosley  Street,  he  not  only 
contrived  to  dazzle  the  romance-beclouded  eyes  of  Augusta,  but, 
what  was  almost  as  much  to  his  purpose,  to  win  over  Mr. 
Ashton,  and  to  weaken  the  prejudice  of  Miss  Augusta's  less 
pliant  mamma.  Ellen  Chadwick  was  the  only  one  on  whom  he 
made  no  impression,  the  only  one  who  retained  a  previous 
opinion — confirmed.  Possibly,  as  Charlotte  Walmsley's  sister,  she 
knew  something  of  his  life  below  the  surface,  and  had  imbibed 
that  sister's  notion  that  he  "led  John  Walmsley  away."  Possibly, 
too,  as  Charles  Chadwick's  daughter,  she  contrasted  the  silken 
speech  of  the  drawing-room  dandy  with  the  hectoring,  sword-in- 
hand,  yeomanry  cavalry  lieutenant  who,  in  striking  at  her  father, 
had  wounded  Jabez,  his  deliverer,  instead. 

At  all  events,  she  met  the  enthusiastic  admiration  of  Augusta 
after  his  departure,  the  gratified  encomiums  of  her  uncle,  and 
the  more  subdued  approbation  of  her  aunt,  with  the  unvarying 
expression,  "  He  would  have  murdered  my  dear  father  but  for 
Jabez  Clegg,  and  Mr.  Clegg  is  worth  a  hundred  of  him." 

Mr.  Laurence  knew  better  than  to  presume  on  that  introduction 
all  at  once.  From  their  gardens  and  greenhouses  at  Ardwick 
and  Fallowfield,  he  sent  small  baskets  of  early  flowers  and  fruit 
to  Mrs.  Ashton,  for  her  daughter,  with  courteous  inquiries ;  but 
he  allowed  several  days  to  elapse  before  he  presented  himself 
in  person,  and  then  his  call  was  of  the  briefest, 


252 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


He  knew  he  had  prejudice  to  overcome,  and  worked  his  way 
gradually.  Meanwhile  Augusta  progressed  favourably ;  and  if 
Aspinall  grew  in  favour  with  the  family,  so  did  Jabez. 

May,  sweet-scented  month  of  promise,  brought  to  Jabez  Clcgg 
in  1820  his  natural  and  legal  heritage — manhood  and  manhood's 
freedom.  He  was  no  longer  an  apprentice  bound  to  a  master 
by  the  will  of  others.  He  had  a  right  to  think  and  act  for 
himself,  subject  only  to  the  laws  of  God  and  of  the  realm. 
True,  that  free  agency  brought  with  it  a  train  of  responsibilities, 
but  the  new  man  was  not  the  one  to  overlook  or  ignore  the  fact. 
He  had  thought  long  and  keenly  of  the  coming  change,  and  all 
it  might  involve,  months  before  it  came. 

His  fixed  wages  as  an  indoor  apprentice,  according  to 
indenture,  were  no  great  matter ;  but,  supplemented  by  coin  he 
extracted  from  his  paint-box  after  business  hours,  he  had  found 
a  margin  for  saving,  besides  contributing  to  the  humble  wants  of 
his  early  fosterers.  The  latter  duty  he  had  never  neglected,  but 
Simon  was  as  sternly  just  as  the  lad  had  been  gratefully 
generous,  and,  even  when  poverty  bit  the  hardest,  would  never 
accept  the  whole  of  his  earnings. 

"  Si  thi,  Jabez,  if  thah  dunnot  keep  summat  fur  thisel'  to  put 
by  fur  a  nest-egg,  thah'll  ne'er  see  the  good  o'  thi  own  earmn's, 
an'  thah'll  lose  heart  in  toime,"  the  old  tanner  had  been  wont 
to  say,  when  sturdily  limiting  the  extent  to  which  his  foster-son 
should  open  his  small  purse. 

So  Jabez,  leading  a  steady,  industrious  life,  spending  little-  on 
personal  gratification,  save  what  he  invested  in  books,  had  quite 
a  little  store  laid  by — the  result  of  very  small  savings — against 
the  time  when  he  might  have  to  shift  for  himself.  Two  things 
had  troubled  him — the  possibility  of  having  to  find  a  situation 
elsewhere  (Mr.  Ashton  having  said  no  word  of  retaining  him, 
though,  on  the  contrary,  he  had  said  nothing  of  his  removal), 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  253 

and  the  necessity  for  quitting  the  house  which  had  been  to  him 
a  home  so  long  that  even  the  grumbling  cook  and  the  affectionate 
dog  had  welded  themselves  into  his  daily  life,  how  much  more  the 
kind  master  and  mistress,  and  that  beatific  vision,  their  beautiful, 
bewitching  daughter,  who  had  held  him  in  vassalage  from  the  very 
day  of  his  apprenticeship,  and  tyrannised  over  him  as  only  a 
wayward,  spoiled  beauty — child  or  woman — could. 

The  bright  morning  of  the  fifth  of  May  set  this  at  rest.  He 
was  called  into  the  inner  counting-house,  and  passed  the  high 
stools  of  inquisitive-eyed,  quill-driving  clerks,  with  a  palpitating 
heart,  conscious  how  much  depended  on  the  issue  of  that 
interview. 

As  he  opened  the  curtained  glass  door,  to  his  surprise  he 
found  himself  confronted  by,  not  only  Mr.  Ashton,  but  Mr. 
Chadwick,  and  Simon  Clegg,  who  had  been  brought  from  Whaley 
Bridge  for  the  occasion. 

Business  men,  as  a  rule,  are  not  demonstrative  over  business, 
and,  after  the  first  salutations  and  surprised  greetings,  the 
congratulations  of  the  day  were  soon  said,  and  the  stereotyped 
"And  now  to  business"  put  sentiment  to  flight.  And  yet  not 
entirely  so,  as  will  be  seen. 

There  was  nothing  luxurious  in  that  counting-house  of  the  past. 
Besides  the  high  desk  and  stool,  it  contained  an  oilcloth-topped 
hexagon  table,  with  a  deep  rim  of  partitioned  drawers,  three 
wooden  chairs,  a  sort  of  fireguard  fender,  and  a  poker ;  but  there 
was  neither  carpet  nor  oilcloth  on  the  floor,  and  the  walls  had  but 
a  dim  recollection  of  paint. 

Mr.  Ashton,  snuff-box  in  hand,  occupied  one  of  these  chairs ; 
Mr.  Chadwick,  resting  hands  and  chin  on  a  stout  walking-stick, 
another;  the  third,  a  little  apart,  had  been  assigned  to  old 
Simon,  now  on  the  shady  side  of  seventy).  Jabez  remained 
standing. 


254  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Mr.  Ashton,  as  was  his  manner,  tapping  his  fingers  on  his 
snuff-box  lid  whilst  he  spoke,  opened  fire,  "  No  doubt,  Jabez, 
you  have  been  expecting  me  to  say  something  respecting  your 
prospects  and  position  when  your  indentures  are  given  up  ? " 

"Well,  sir,"  answered  Jabez  with  a  frank  smile,  "I  believe  I 
have." 

"  Just  so !      I   knew  you   would.      It    was   but    likely.      And  I 
should    have    spoken    to    you    some    time    since,   but    for    brother 
Chadwick  here.    Both  Mrs.  Ashton  and  myself  have  watched  your 
conduct  and  progress,  during  the  whole  term   of  your  apprentice 
ship,  with  entire   satisfaction." 

Here  a  pinch  of  snuff  emphasised  the  sentence,  and  both 
Simon  and  Jabez  felt  their  cheeks  begin  to  glow. 

"You  have  been  unusually  steady  and  persevering — have  not 
been  merely  obedient,  but  obliging,  and  your  rectitude  does 
full  credit  to  the  *  honourable '  name  Parson  Brookes  gave  to 
you." 

This  was  quite  a  long  speech  for  Mr.  Ashton ;  he  paused  to 
take  breath ;  and  old  Simon,  proud  of  the  young  man  as  if  he 
had  been  his  own  son,  feeling  the  encomium  as  some  sort  of 
halo  round  his  own  grey  head,  exclaimed — 

"Aw'm  downreet  preawd  to  yer  [hear]  yo'  say  it,  sir.  It'll 
mak'  ar  Bess's  heart  leap  wi'  joy." 

But  Jabez,  blushing,  half  ashamed  of  hearing  his  own  praises 
rung  out  as  from  a  belfry,  could  only  stammer  forth — 

"  I've  endeavoured  to  do  my  duty,  that  is   all,  sir." 

"  A — 11 ! "  interjected  Mr.  Chadwick,  in  his  imperfect  speech, 
"Nelson  sa — said  du — u — ty  was  all  Engla — and  expected  of 
ev — ev'ry  man,  but  it  w — won  the  b — battle  of  Tr — Trafalgar  ! " 

"Duty  wins  the  battle  of  life,  brother,"  put  in  Mrs.  Ashton, 
who  had  quietly  entered  the  counting-house  by  the  door  behind 
Jabez. 


MANCHESTER    MAN.  255 

"  Just  so,  just  so ! "  assented  Mr.  Ashton,  as  he  rose  and 
handed  his  chair  to  the  lady  whose  stately  presence  seemed  to 
fill  the  room  ;  "  and  Jabez  has  only  to  continue  doing  his  duty 
to  win  his  battle  of  life,  I  take  it.  But  to  our  business. — You 
have  hitherto  served  us  well,  Jabez,  in  the  warehouse  and  out  of 
it ;  you  have  been  doubly  useful  to  me  as  a  designer  and  as  a 
detector  of  the  roguery  and  mismanagement  of  others.  Then,  to 
my  daughter,  who  is  far  dearer  than  either  warehouse  or  trade, 
you  have  rendered  more  than  one  service," 

"Oh,  sir,  do  not  name  it,  I  beg.  It  has  been  my  highest 
pleasure  to  serve  Miss  Ashton — or  yourself,"  Jabez  exclaimed, 
the  two  last  words  rising  to  his  lips  simultaneously  with  the 
thought  that  his  sudden  outburst  might  fail  of  appreciation  by 
Miss  Ashton's  wealthy  relatives. 

"  Just  so !  but  I  must  name  it,  Jabez,  as  a  reason  for  my  proposal 
to  retain  you  in  my  employ,  and  for  assigning  to  you  a  situation 
and  salary  higher  than  is  usually  accorded  to  an  apprentice  just 
out  of  his  time.  But  as  you  have  shown  stability  and  judgment 
beyond  your  years,  and  I  know  you  to  be  honourable  in  all 
respects,  I  feel  I  am  justified  in  making  the  offer." 

Mr.  Ashton  then  stated,  with  a  little  seasoning  of  snuff,  the 
salary  he  proposed  to  give  the  young  man,  and  the  duties  he 
required  as  an  equivalent,  if  Jabez  accepted  his  proposition. 

The  eyes  of  Jabez  sparkled  and  his  cheeks  glowed.  As  for 
Simon,  he  seemed  dumb  with  delight  and  astonishment  at  the 
good  fortune  of  the  foundling. 

"IF  !"  cried  Jabez,  "there  can  be  no  'if,'  sir;  you  overpower  me  with 
an  offer  so  far  above  my  deserts.  I  accept  it  most  gratefu " 

"Stay,  Mr.  Clegg,"  interrupted  Mrs.  Ashton,  as  Mr.  Chadwick 
raised  his  head  from  its  rest  on  his  hands  and  stick,  and  made 
an  ineffectual  effort  to  speak.  "'Think  twice  before  you  speak 
once/  my  bro — — " 


256  fuE   MANCHESTER    MAN. 

"  Oh,  madam !  there  is  no  need,"  Jabez  began,  but  she  silenced 
him  with  a  mere  gesture  of  her  raised  hand ;  and  Mrs.  Ashton, 
acting  as  interpreter  for  her  slow-tongued  brother-in-law, 
resumed — 

"You  have  done  us  some  services,  Mr.  Clegg,  but  'a  man  will 
give  all  he  possesses  for  his  life,'  and  Mr.  Chadwick  :reels  that 
his  debt  to  you  is  greater  than  ours." 

Jabez  looked  from  one  to  another,  bewildered. 

Mr.  Ashton  took  up  the  thread — "  Just  so !  and  that  brings  me 
to  the  point  we  have  been  driving  at.  You  see,  Jabez,  Mr. 
Chadwick  is  not  so  capable  of  managing  his  business  as  he  used 
to  be ;  things  go  wrong  he  scarcely  knows  how,  and  he  is 
desirous  to  bring  some  one  into  his  warehouse  on  whom  he  can 
rely.  He  therefore  offers  to  take  you  at  a  higher  salary  than  I 
think  at  all  suitable  for  so  young  a  man,  and  if  you  prove  your 
competence  to  take  the  management  within  a  reasonable  time, 
to  give  it  over  into  your  hands,  and  ultimately — it  may  be  in  a 
very  few  years — to  give  you  a  small  partnership  interest  in  the 
concern." 

It  is  difficult  to  say  whether  Jabez  or  Simon  was  the  most 
completely  stunned. 

"You  must  not  look  on  this  altogether  as  a  testimony  to 
your  business  qualifications,  Jabez,  I  think,"  continued  Mr. 
Ashton,  "but  as  the  outflow  of  a  grateful  heart,  and  the 
proposition  of  a  man  who  has  no  son  capable  of  keeping  his 
trade  together.  Is  not  that  so?"  turning  to  Mr.  Chadwick. 

"  Cer — certainly ! " 

Jabez  looked  from  one  to  another,  then  to  Simon,  but  no 
help  was  forthcoming  from  that  quarter. 

Mrs.  Ashton  came  to  his  relief :  "  I  think,  Mr.  Clegg,  you 
had  better  'look  before  you  leap.'  Whatever  decision  you  make 
will  equally  satisfy  us.  But  I  see  you  need  time  to  consider. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  257 

Suppose  you  consult  your  foster-father,  and  give  Mr  Ashton 
your  decision  at  the  outcome-supper  to-night" 

The  hesitation  of  Jabez  was  only  momentary.  We  are  told 
that  all  the  marvels  and  glories  of  Paradise  were  revealed  to 
Mahomet  before  a  single  drop  of  water  had  time  to  flow  from 
a  pitcher  overturned  in  his  upward  flight ;  and  even  whilst  Mrs, 
Ashton  spoke,  Jabez  had  time  to  think. 

"Thank  you,  madam,"  said  he,  "but  I  need  no  deliberation. 
I  know  not  for  whose  kindness  to  be  most  grateful ;  but  I  do 
know  that  I  should  be  most  ungrateful  if  I  were  to  quit  the 
master  and  mistress  to  whom  both  myself  and  my  dear  friends 
owe  so  very  much  for  the  first  tempting  offer  made  to  me. 
Mr.  Chadwick  overrates  my  service  ;  Mr.  Mabbott  rendered  quite 
as  efficient  aid ;  besides,  I  have  no  acquaintance  with  the 
manufacture  of  piece-goods,  and  have  no  right  to  take  advantage 
of  Mr.  Chadwick's  extreme  generosity,  knowing  my  own 
disqualifications.  And,  pardon  my  saying  so,  if  Mr.  Chadwick 
has  no  mercantile  son,  he  may  some  day  have  a  son-in-law 
better  fitted  in  every  way  for  the  office  and  promise  held  out  to 
me.  I  trust,  Mr.  Chadwick,  you  will  not  consider  me  ungracious 
in  declining  your  liberal  offer,  but,  indeed,  I  have  been  trained 
to  the  smallware  manufacture,  and  here  lies  my  duty,  for  here  I 
feel  I  may  be  able  to  render  something  of  a  quid  pro  quo? 

Before  anyone  had  time  for  reply,  the  Infirmary  clock  struck 
twelve,  and,  as  if  simultaneously,  there  was  a  rush  from  the 
warehouse  into  the  yard,  an  outcry  and  a  din,  as  if  Babel  had 
broken  loose,  the  sacred  precincts  of  the  counting-house  was 
invaded,  and  Jabez  was  carried  off  vi  ct  armis. 


CHAPTER    THE    TWENTY-EIGHTH. 


ONCE    IN    A    LIFE. 

USTOMS  change  with  the 
manners  of  the  times,  and  as 
the  apprentice  is  no  longer 
the  absolute  bond-slave  of 
his  master,  release  from  the 
seven  years  bondage  is  now 
seldom  accompanied  by  the 
active  and  noisy  demonstra- 
tion which  of  old  marked 
that  epoch  of  a  tradesman's 
or  artisan's  career. 

But  if  the  sudden  uproar, 
which  chased  quiet  from  the 
CROWNING  JABKZ  WITH  PUNCH-BOWL,  precincts    of    Mr.    Ashton's 

warehouse  and  manufactory  when  the  Infirmary  clock  told  noon, 
broke  prematurely  upon  the  conference  in  the  counting-house,  it 
was  not  unexpected.  Every  apprentice  had  been  similarly 
greeted  at  the  same  period  of  his  life.  Until  the  clock 
proclaimed  twelve,  business  routine  had  been  undisturbed,  but 
those  twelve  beats  of  the  timekeeper's  hammer  had  been  the 
signal  for  every  apprentice  and  workman  on  the  premises  to 
rush  pell-mell  into  the  yard,  each  bearing  with  him  some 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  259 

implement  or  symbol  of  his  trade,  anything  which  would  clash 
or  clang  being  preferred.  Remnants  of  fringe,  bed-lace,  and 
carpet-binding  waved  and  fluttered  like  streamers  from  the  hands 
of  the  women ;  umbrella  sticks  were  flourished ;  strings  of  waste 
ferrules,  brass  wheels,  brace  buckles,  button  and  tassel  moulds, 
cops,  and  spindles  were  jingled  and  jangled  together;  tin  cans 
were  beaten  with  picking-rods,  punches,  hammers,  leather  stamps, 
and  other  tools  by  apprentices  and  men ;  whilst  Jabez  himself, 
hoisted  on  the  shoulders  of  the  two  smallware-weavers  who  had 
seized  and  borne  him  from  his  master's  presence,  claiming  him 
as  one  of  their  own  body,  a  recognised  lawful  member  of  their  craft, 
was  paraded  round  and  round  that  inner  court-yard  with  the 
crowd  in  extemporised  procession,  amid  shouts,  hurrahs,  songs, 
and  that  peculiar  instrumental  accompaniment  which  was — noise — 
not  music. 

The  household  servants  had  crowded  to  the  scullery  door ; 
clerks  stood  aloof  under  the  gateway,  where  Simon  Clegg  kept 
them  in  company  in  an  ecstasy  of  satisfaction ;  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
Ashton  and  Mr.  Chadwick  surveyed  the  proceedings  from  the 
counting-house  window,  whilst  even  Ellen  and  Augusta  were 
curious  enough  to  look  on  from  those  back  hall  steps  where  they 
had  once  before  received  the  hero  of  that  scene,  wounded — from 
a  very  different  one. 

More  than  six  years  had  elapsed  since  the  last  indoor 
apprentice  had  been  borne  in  triumph  round  that  yard  (Kit 
Townley's  indentures  had  been  prematurely  cancelled),  and  Jabez 
may  be  pardoned  if  he  contrasted  the  two  occasions,  and  construed 
the  wilder  excitement  and  enthusiasm  of  this  in  his  own  favour, 
when  his  employers  and  their  daughter  noticed  it  also. 

"It  is  easy  to  tell  what  a  favourite  Jabez  must  be  in  the 
warehouse,  by  the  uproar.  The  last  outcome,  I  remember,  was 
quite  tame  beside  this." 


260  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

"  Well,  Augusta,"  answered  Ellen,  "  I  believe  he  deserves  it. 
I  know  my  father  thinks  there  is  not  such  another  young  man 
as  Mr.  Clegg  in  all  Manchester." 

"Yes,  he's  very  kind,  and  obliging,  and  clever,  and  persevering, 
and  all  that,  and  I  like  him  very  well ;  but  then  you  know, 
Ellen,  he  is  not  a  gentleman,  and  he  is  not  handsome  by  any 
means,"  responded  Augusta,  in  quite  a  patronising  tone. 

Ellen  looked  grave. 

"  He  is  all  that  is  good  and  noble,  if  he  was  not  born  a 
gentleman ;  and  7  think  him  handsome.  He  has  a  frank,  open, 
expressive  countenance,  and  a  good  figure,  and  good  manners, 
and  what  more  would  you  have?" 

Augusta  turned  her  head  sharply,  and  looked  up  archly  in  her 
cousin's  face. 

"It's  well  Captain  Travis  does  not  hear  you,  Ellen,  or  he  might 
be  jealous  of  the  prentice-knight,"  she  said,  banteringly. 

Ellen  coloured  painfully. 

"When  shall  I  make  you  understand  that  Mr.  Travis  is  nothing 
to  me?"  asked  she. 

"When  my  cousin  makes  me  understand  that  she  is  nothing 
to  Mr.  Travis,"  was  the  quick  reply,  as  Jabez  was  being  borne 
past  for  the  last  time,  and  the  young  ladies  once  more  waved 
their  handkerchiefs  in  salutation. 

It  may  be  very  gratifying  and  very  triumphant  to  be  borne 
aloft  on  other  men's  shoulders,  but  it  is  neither  dignified,  nor 
graceful,  nor  comfortable ;  and  Jabez,  being  carried  off  bare-headed, 
had  neither  hat  nor  cap  to  wave  in  return.  He  made  the  best 
use  of  his  right  hand,  his  left  being  required  to  steady  himself, 
yet  I  am  afraid  he  was  more  desirous  to  make  a  good  impression 
on  the  romantic  young  lady  muffled  in  a  shawl — to  hide  the 
swathing  bandages — than  on  his  less-attractive  and  elder  champion 
by  her  side. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  261 

It  was  half-past  twelve ;  the  dinner-bell  rang,  Jabez  was 
lowered  to  terra  firma,  and  there  was  a  general  rush  to  the 
packing-room,  which  had  been  cleared  out  to  receive  tressels  and 
planks  for  the  tables,  and  an  abundant  supply  of  cold  meat,  cheese, 
bread,  and  ale,  provided  by  the  master. 

And  then  and  there,  before  a  mouthful  was  cut,  Mr.  Ashton, 
standing  at  the  head  of  the  table,  having  Mr.  Chadwick  by  his 
side,  and  Simon  Clegg  close  at  hand,  presented  Jabez  with  his 
indentures,  with  many  expressions  of  his  good  will  and  his  good 
opinion,  and  an  intimation  to  those  assembled  that  Mr.  Clegg 
would  in  all  probability  continue  in  his  employ,  an  announcement 
which  was  received  with  loud  acclaim  ;  and  the  hungry  operatives 
set  to  at  the  collation  with  right  good  will. 

This  was  the  master's  feast ;  that  of  the  apprentice,  for  which 
it  was  customary  to  save  up  long  in  advance,  was  at  night,  and 
held  at  the  neighbouring  "Concert-Hall  Tavern"  in  York  Street, 
opposite  to  the  then  "  Gentleman's  Concert-Hall," 

Prior  to  that,  however,  Mrs.  Ashton  had  somewhat  to  say  to 
the  young  man,  and  she  chose  his  own  sitting-room  to  say  it  in. 
Of  course,  his  apprenticeship  over,  it  behoved  him  to  shift  his 
quarters  ;  and  he  had  looked  forward  to  his  abdication  with  regret 
undreamed  of  by  Mrs.  Ashton,  or  she  would  certainly  have 
hesitated  ere  she  made  the  proposal  she  did. 

As  it  was,  she  kindly  and  thoughtfully  considered  that  Jabez 
had  no  good  parental  home  to  return  to;  that  she  had  no  other  use 
for  the  rooms  he  occupied,  so  she  proposed  to  him  that  he  should 
continue  to  occupy  them  whilst  he  thought  fit,  since  he  had 
elected  to  remain  in  their  service. 

He  had  already  looked  at  lodgings  in  Charlotte  Street,  close 
at  hand  ;  but  this  unexpected  proposal  came  like  a  reprieve  to  an 
exile,  and  he  was  as  prompt  in  his  acceptance  as  he  had  been  in 
that  previous  decision  which  had  so  thoroughly  swamped  all 


262  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Mr.  Chad  wick's  plans  for  his  advancement.  His  eager  "Oh, 
madam,  you  cannot  mean  it!  You  overwhelm  me  with  kindness. 
Remain  under  this  roof!  It  is  a  privilege  I  had  not  anticipated, 
and  I  shall  be  proud  to  embrace  it!"  sent  Mrs.  Ashton  away 
well  pleased. 

It  was  doubly  satisfactory  to  find  the  comforts  of  their  home 
appreciated  after  seven  years'  experience,  and  to  be  able  to 
refute  Mr.  Ashton's  theory  that  "all  young  men  like  to  shake 
a  loose  leg,  and  Jabez  would  be  too  glad  to  escape  from 
grumbling  Kezia's  jurisdiction  to  accept  the  offer." 

Mr.  Ashton,  however,  did  not  abandon  the  opinion  he  had 
formed.  "  I'll  wager  my  gold  snuff-box  against  a  button-mould," 
asserted  he,  "  that  Clegg  only  said  '  Yes '  because  gratitude  would 
not  let  him  say  '  Nay ! '  It's  not  likely  a  young  man  would 
care  to  be  always  under  the  eyes  of  a  master  or  mistress, 
however  steady  he  may  be." 

Ah,  but  neither  Mr.  nor  Mrs.  Ashton  knew  there  was  a 
magnet  under  their  roof,  stronger  than  all  the  ordinary 
inducements  which  might  otherwise  have  drawn  him  away — and 
perhaps  it  was  as  well  for  him  they  did  not. 

Simon,  who  was  present  at  the  time,  seemed  literally 
overpowered  with  gratitude  for  all  the  good  which  was  falling 
into  the  lap  of  the  child  of  his  adoption.  He,  however,  took 
his  own  views  of  the  matter,  views  not  calculated  to  puff  Jabez 
up  in  his  own  esteem,  and  when  Mrs.  Ashton  was  gone  he  broke  out — 

"  Eh,  Jabez,  lad !  but  thah's  lit  on  thi  feet !  Thah's  bin  -a 
good  lad,  aw  reckon,  an'  thah's  sarved  thi  master  gradely ;  but 
thah  sees  many  a  lad  does  that  as  never  gets  a  lift  such  as 
thah's  getten.  An'  aw  canno'  but  thenk  it  o'  comes  o'  that 
prayer  o'  thy  Israelite  namesake,  as  aw  towt  thee  when  thou 
were  no  bigger  than  sixpenn'orth  o'  copper.  Yo'  hanna  furgetten 
it,  aw  hope  ?  " 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  263 

No,  Jabez  had  not  forgotten  it!  It  would  be  strange  if  he 
had.  Nay,  only  that  morning,  in  the  flush  of  success  he  had 
carried  from  the  counting-house,  with  the  buoyant  presumption 
of  youth,  a  conviction  that  it  was  not  so  much  a  prayer  as  a 
prophecy  nearing  fulfilment. 

Simon  brought  his  soaring  pinions  down  from  their  Icarian  flight. 
"Well,  lad,  it  may  be  'the  Lord  has  enlarged  thi  coast,'  but 
if  so  be  He  han,  thah  sees  theer's  moore  room  fur  thee  to  slip 
as  well  as  to  stond,  and  theer's  moore  rayson  whoi  thah  shouldn 
be  thenkful  and  humble !  for  the  big  book  says,  '  Let  him  that 
stondeth  tak'  heed  lest  he  fall,'  an'  aw  shouldna  loike  t'  see  thi 
young  yead  torned  wi  proide." 

His  lecture  was  somewhat  of  a  cold  shower-bath  to  Jabez  in 
his  hour  of  triumph,  but  no  doubt  it  was  salutary  in  its 
ultimate  effects.  At  all  events,  it  kept  the  vaulting  ambition  of 
the  new  man  a  little  in  check. 

People — especially  work-people — then  observed  early  hours.  At 
seven  o'clock  the  outcome  supper  was  on  the  tables  at  the 
"  Concert  Hall  Tavern  ;"  and  the  elder  apprentices,  and  all  such 
of  the  workmen  as  were  absolutely  engaged  on  the  premises, 
were  there  to  partake  when  Jabez  found  old  Simon  a  seat, 
himself  taking  the  head  of  the  table,  with  the  two  senior 
apprentices  on  his  right  hand  and  left. 

The  cost  of  such  suppers  usually  fell  on  the  apprentice,  but 
sometimes,  as  in  this  case,  the  master  added  his  quota.  If 
plain,  the  provision  was  substantial  and  ample.  Rounds  of  beef 
and  legs  of  mutton,  piles  of  floury  potatoes,  and  red  cones  of 
carrot  on  pale  beds  of  mashed  turnip,  smoked  on  the  board,  and 
the  two-pronged  forks  and  horn-hafted  knives  were  flanked  with 
earthenware  jugs  and  horns  of  ale. 

It  was  ^..-"ITrsi;   essay   of  Jabez   in   the   art  of  carving,   and  no 
doubt    he   made   rather  an   unskilled   president.      But  in   the  then 


264  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

condition  of  the  lower  classes  a  large  joint  of  meat  was  a  rare 
sight  to  a  working-man,  and  so  he  cut  away  with  no  fear  of 
critics.  Amidst  the  rattle  of  cutlery  and  crockery,  and  the  rapid 
play  of  jaws,  beef  and  mutton  disappeared,  and  were  succeeded 
by  a  tremendous  plum-pudding — the  contribution  of  old  Mrs. 
Clowes — and  half  a  cheese,  which  came  to  the  table  in  the  then 
common  japanned  receptacle  locally  known  as  a  cheese-biggin. 

Appetite  and  the  viands  fled  together,  the  noise  of  tongues 
succeeded  to  the  noise  of  knives  and  forks,  and  Lancashire 
humour  vented  itself  in  jest  and  repartee,  sometimes  coarse,  but 
seldom  mischievous.  Old  Simon  enjoyed  it  immensely.  It  seemed 
like  a  renewal  of  his  own  youth. 

It  was  not,  however,  until  the  supper- table  was  cleared  that 
the  chief  ceremonial  of  the  evening  took  place.  Then  an  arm-chair 
was  mounted  upon  the  table,  in  which  Jabez  was  enthroned,  the 
two  eldest  apprentices  standing  also  on  the  table  on  either  hand 
as  supporters.  An  immense  bowl  of  steaming  punch  was  brought 
in,  which  was  held  over  the  head  of  Jabez  by  the  one  apprentice 
(when  he  was  said  to  be  crowned),  whilst  the  other,  wielding  the 
punch-ladle  as  a  symbol  of  authority,  with  many  a  theatrical 
grimace,  began  to  ladle  the  odorous  compound  into  the  glasses 
of  the  guests  ;  and  the  head  overlooker  of  the  manufactory,  from 
the  opposite  end  of  the  table,  prepared  to  propose  the  health  of 
the  late  apprentice,  as  a  new  member  of  their  craft. 

At  this  juncture  in  walked  their  master,  Mr.  Ashton,  closely 
followed  by  Mr.  Chadwick,  leaning  on  the  arm  of  the  Rev. 
Joshua  Brookes,  who  with  many  a  "  pish "  and  "  pshaw ! "  and 
"  pooh ! "  had  professed  to  come  reluctantly  "  to  see  a  sensible 
lad  make  a  fool  of  himself."  Their  entrance,  and  the  volley  of 
cheers  which  greeted  it,  made  a  momentary  pause  in  the 
proceedings.  Then  Mr.  Ashton,  being  duly  supplied  with  a 
ladleful  of  punch,  took  his  overlooker's  place,  and,  the  glass 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 


265 


serving  as  a  substitute  for  his  snuff-box,  he  proposed  and  drank 
"  Mr.  Clegg's  health  and  prosperity,"  and  welcomed  him  among 
the  confraternity  of  small-ware  weavers. 

This  was  succeeded  by  a  prolonged  cheer,  and  then,  as  one 
by  one  each  man's  glass  was  filled,  ere  he  touched  it  with  his 
lips  he  sang  separately  (with  whatsoever  voice  he  might  happen 
to  have,  musical  or  otherwise)  the  following  toast  to  proclaim 
the  released  apprentice  a  freeman  of  the  trade,  the  chorus  being 
taken  up  afresh  after  every  repetition  of  the  quatrain : — 

Here's  a  health   to  he  that's  now   set   free, 

That  once  was  a  'prentice  bound, 
And  for  his  sake  this  merriment  we   make, 

So  let  his  health   go  round  ; 
Go  round,   go  round,   go   round,   brave    boys, 

Until  it  comes   to  me ; 
For   the   longer  we   sit  here   and   drink, 

The  merrier   we  shall  be. 

Chorus — Go  round,  go   round,   &c. 

Mr.  Ashton  had  ordered  up  another  bowl  of  punch,  and  that 
being  distributed  with  like  ceremony  over  the  new  small-ware 
monarch's  head,  Jabez,  from  his  temporary  throne,  with  all  the 
warmth  of  freshly-stimulated  gratitude,  delivered  a  very  genuine 
oration  on  the  excellence  of  the  master  then  present,  and 
proposed,  as  a  toast,  "  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Ashton,  our  worthy  and 
esteemed  master  and  mistress." 

Nowadays  I'm  afraid  the  master  would  have  been  dubbed  a 
"  governor,"  and  the  mistress  ignored  altogether ;  but,  though  it 
is  only  fifty-five  years  since,  servants  were  not  ashamed  to  own 
they  had  masters  and  mistresses,  and,  consequently,  were  not 
above  being  amenable  to  rule. 

During  this  digression,  at  a  hint  from  someone  (I  believe  old 
Simon),  Jabez,  whose  eloquence  must  surely  have  come  from  the 
punch-bowl,  dilated  on  the  spiritual  relation  between  the  reverend 


266  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

chaplain  and  the  party  assembled,  there  being  scarcely  an 
individual  present  who  had  not  been  either  baptised  or  married 
by  the  Rev.  Joshua  Brookes  ;  and  he  wished  "  health  and  long 
life  to  him "  with  much  sincerity. 

A  general  shout  rose  in  response,  but  Joshua  made  no  other 
reply  than  to  turn  on  his  heel  (the  better  to  hide  his  face),  and 
growl  out,  "  Long  life,  indeed  !  Ugh !  pack  of  tomfoolery ! "  as 
he  hurried  from  the  room,  before  either  Mr.  Ashton  or  his 
paralysed  brother-in-law  could  follow.  Yet,  in  spite  of  his  gruff 
disclaimer,  he  added  another  bowl  of  punch  to  the  "tomfoolery" — 
at  least,  one  was  brought  in  soon  after,  and  no  one  there  was 
called  upon  to  pay  for  it. 

Relieved  from  the  restraining  presence  of  the  gentlemen, 
tongues  wagged  freely,  long  pipes  were  introduced,  song,  jest, 
and  toast  succeeded  each  other,  and,  as  the  fun  grew  and  the 
smoke  thickened,  they  mingled  confusedly,  until  at  length  clear- 
headed Simon  drew  his  arm  through  that  of  the  novice,  and, 
watching  his  opportunity,  led  him  unnoticed  into  the  open  air, 
with  his  head  spinning  like  a  teetotum. 

Jabez  awakened  the  next  morning  with  a  terrible  headache, 
and  a  dim  recollection  of  having  encountered  stately  Mrs.  Ashton 
in  the  hall  overnight,  when  the  very  statues  had  seemed  to  shake 
their  heads  at  him,  and  her  mild,  "  Fie,  Jabez ! "  followed  him 
upstairs,  apparently  carpeted  with  moss  or  indiarubber  for  the 
nonce.  It  was  his  first  dissipation,  and  his  last.  He  never  forgot 
it.  And  if  anything  was  wanting  to  destroy  the  germs  of  self- 
sufficiency  and  elation,  it  was  found  in  the  consciousness  of  his 
own  frailty,  and  the  sense  of  shame  and  self-reproach  it 
engendered. 

Experienced  heads  knew  that  the  surrounding  fumes  of  liquor 
and  tobacco  had  been  more  potential  than  the  small  quantity 
of  punch  he  had  imbibed.  But  he  did  not  know  it,  and  by  the 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


267 


hail-fellow-well-metishness  of  those  workmen  who  were  most 
inclined  at  all  times  to  keep  Saint-Monday,  and  who  came  to 
their  work,  or  stayed  from  their  work,  unfit  for  their  work,  was 
a  sensitive  chord  of  his  nature  struck,  far  more  than  by  the 
quiet  caution  of  Simon,  the  light  badinage  of  Mr.  Ashton,  or  the 
jeers  of  captious  Kezia. 

In  making  light  of  it,  Jabez  felt  they  made  light  of  him, 
and  he  was  long  after  afraid  lest  those  whose  opinion  he  held 
in  esteem  should  make  light  of  him  also — Augusta  Ashton  chief 
of  these. 


CHAPTER    THE    TWENTY-NINTH.* 

ON    ARDWICK    GREEN    POND. 

T  was  in  vain  Madame  Broadbent  waited  on  Mrs.  and 
Mr.  Ashton  and  solicited  Miss  Ashton's  return  to  her 
establishment  on  her  ultimate  recovery.  The  pupil 
was  not  more  shudderingly  reluctant  to  be  replaced 
under  her  despotic  rule  than  the  parents  were  peremptory  in 
their  refusal. 

When  her  plea  for  the  "  maintenance  of  discipline "  failed, 
and  she  tried  cajolery  as  ineffectually,  she  gave  way  to  the 
expression  of  her  natural  fears  that  it  would  "be  the  ruin  of 
the  Academy"  if  Mr.  Ashton  did  not  reverse  his  decision.  He 
loved  his  daughter  too  well  to  yield,  and  Mrs.  Broadbent  went 
back  to  Bradshaw  Street  to  find,  as  years  rolled  on,  that  she 
had  been  a  true  prophetess. 

The  injury  done  to  Miss  Ashton's  collar-bone  had  been  bruited 
about,  and  slowly  but  surely  it  helped  to  sap  the  foundation 
of  the  once-flourishing  seminary,  It  continued  to  exist  for  some 
years,  but  its  prestige  was  gone,  its  glory  departed.  Yet  she 
maintained  her  personal  importance  to  the  last,  and  exhibited 
her  flock  in  the  "lower  boxes"  of  the  Theatre  Royal  on  Mrs. 
M'Gibbon's  benefit  nights  with  undiminished  dignity  through 
successive  seasons. 

*  See  Appendix, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  269 

The  rapidly-ripening  young  lady  had  her  will ;  she  had  done 
with  the  schoolroom  for  ever,  and  her  lessons  on  the  harp  from 
Mr.  Horobin,  and  on  the  piano  from  George  Ware,  the  leader 
of  the  Gentlemen's  Concerts,  came  under  quite  another  category. 
Nor  did  she  think  it  beneath  her  aspirations  to  retain  her  place 
in  Mrs.  Eland's  fashionable  dancing-room,  where  she  practised 
cotillons,  quadrilles,  and  the  newly-imported  waltz,  with  partners 
on  a  par  with  herself.  But  these  were  accomplishments,  and  we 
all  know,  or  ought  to  know  by  this  time,  that  accomplishments 
require  much  more  prolonged  and  arduous  application  than  the 
merely  useful  and  essential  branches  of  knowledge,  theorists  for 
the  higher  education  of  women  notwithstanding. 

Miss    Augusta     was    desirous   to  be  captivating    and    shine    in 
society,   and  so  proud  was   Mr.   Ashton   of    his  beautiful  daughter 
that  he  fell  in  readily  with  the  expansive  views  of  the  incipient 
belle,    and    new    steps    or    new    melodies    were    paraded    for    his 
gratification     week     by    week.       But     Mrs.    Ashton,     telling     her 
daughter    that    "knowledge    was    light    of    carriage,"    sent    her   to 
Mr.   Mabbott's  to  take  lessons   in  cookery   and  confectionery,  and 
into    the    kitchen    to    put    them    in    practice    under    the    eye    of 
Kezia;    and,   exercise    being    good    for    health,  according    to    the 
same  sensible   mother,   she  was   required   to  assist  in   bed-making, 
furniture   polishing,    dusting,    and    general    household   matters,    for 
which    the    young    lady    had    little    liking,    and    was    not   to    be 
spurred    into     liking    by     any     citation     of    her    cousin     Ellen's 
qualifications  in  these  respects.      She  preferred  to   dress  with  all 
the  art  at  her    command   to  make  her    beauty  more  bewildering, 
and   to  take    her  place    at   harp    or  piano,   or    embroidery   frame, 
ready  to  receive  visitors  either  with  or   without  her  mother,  and 
to    be    as    fascinating    as     possible,    especially    when     Laurence 
Aspinall   was  the   caller;    or  she   would   sit  in    d6shabi!16    in    the 
retirement    of   her    own    chamber   and    read    Moore    and     Byron 


270  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

because  they  were  tabooed,  and  the  handsome  lieutenant  quoted 
them  so  enchantingly,  whilst  Cicily,  who  had  something  to 
answer  for  in  this  respect,  bustled  about  and  overworked  herself 
to  spare  her  darling  Miss  Augusta,  who,  with  all  her  faults, 
must  have  been  a  loving  and  lovable  creature  to  win  such 
devotion  from  a  dependent. 

It  happened  that  the  young  lady  received  visitors  alone  more 
frequently  than  was  desirable,  Mrs.  Ashton  being  usually  tied  to 
the  warehouse  in  consequence  of  the  interest  Mr.  Ashton  took 
in  the  establishment  of  the  Manchester  Chamber  of  Commerce 
and  in  the  project  for  the  widening  of  Market  Street  and  other 
of  the  cramped  thoroughfares  of  the  growing  town,  which 
necessarily  took  him  much  from  home  and  his  private  business, 
to  say  nothing  of  the  excitement  consequent  on  the  trial  of 
Queen  Caroline  during  its  long  progress. 

But  the  year  1820,  which  had  opened  only  to  close  the  long 
volume  of  George  the  Third's  life,  and  to  open  that  of  George 
the  Fourth's  reign  at  a  chapter  of  regal  wife  persecution  which 
has  few  parallels,  had  itself  grown  old  and  died,  and  1821  had 
thrust  itself  prominently  forward. 

It  came  with  a  white  robe  and  a  frost-bitten  countenance, 
which  grew  sharper  and  more  pinched  as  weeks  and  months  went 
by.  It  looked  down  on  the  currents  of  rivers  and  canals,  on  the 
secluded  still  waters  of  Strangeways  Park,  the  oblong  pond  in 
front  of  the  Infirmary,  and  the  leech-shaped  lakelet  within  the 
area  of  Ardwick  Green,  until  their  ripples  curdled  under  the 
chilling  glance  of  the  New  Year. 

Sterner  grew  its  aspect  as  the  shivering  weeks  counted  them- 
selves into  months,  and  the  shrinking  waters  spread  first  a  thin 
film,  then  a  thick  and  a  thicker  barrier  of  ice  between  them  and 
the  freezing  atmosphere.  Every  gutter  had  its  slide,  along  which 
clattering  clogs  sped  noiselessly;  every  pool  its  vociferous  throng 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  271 

of  boys,  and  every  pond  its  mingled  concourse  of  skaters  and 
sliders.  Of  these,  the  Infirmary  and  Ardwick  Green  waters  were 
most  patronised  ;  the  former  having  the  more  numerous,  the  latter 
having  the  more  select  body  of  skaters,  and  consequently  the 
more  fashionable  surrounding  of  spectators. 

The  amusements  of  the  town  were  then  on  so  limited  and 
exclusive  a  scale  that  long  frost  was  quite  a  boon  to  the  younger 
portion  of  the  community  ;  and  during  the  sixteen  weeks  of  its 
continuance,  the  Green  became  a  promenade  gay  with  the  warm 
hues  of  feminine  attire,  as  ladies  flocked  to  witness  and  extol  the 
feats  of  husbands,  brothers,  cousins,  or  particular  friends.  There 
was  no  fear  of  vulgar  overcrowding  (except  on  Sundays) ;  working- 
hours  were  long,  and  there  were  no  Saturday  half-holidays,  so 
that  only  those  whose  time  was  at  their  own  disposal  could  share 
the  sport  or  overlook  it. 

Amongst  these,  much  to  the  annoyance  of  Mr.  Aspinall,  his 
son  Laurence  chose  to  enrol  himself,  with  less  regard  to  the 
fluctuation  of  the  cotton  market,  or  the  comparative  value  of 
American  or  East  Indian  staples  than  the  Cannon  Street  merchant 
thought  necessary  to  fit  him  for  his  future  partner  or  successor. 
The  younger  man  had  chosen  to  construe  liberally  the  word 
"  gentleman,"  which  had  been  the  be-all  and  end-all  of  his  training, 
and  to  regard  elegant  idleness  as  its  synonym.  What  availed 
his  fine  figure  and  proficiency  in  arts  and  athletics,  if  he  had  no 
opportunity  for  the  display  of  his  person  or  his  skill?  And  to 
throw  away  the  rare  chance  the  winter  had  provided  was  clearly 
to  scorn  the  gift  of  the  gods. 

Accordingly  he  spent  more  time  on  Ardwick  Green  Pond  than 
in  the  counting-house,  varied  occasionally  with  a  visit  to  the 
Assembly  Billiard-room  in  Back  Mosley  Street,  or  a  morning 
promenade  in  the  Infirmary  Gardens,  from  the  open  gates  of 
which  he  generally  contrived  to  emerge  as  Miss  Ashton  descended 


272  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

the  steps  from  Mr.  Mabbott's,  and  just  in  time  to  hand  her 
courteously  and  daintily  across  the  roadway,  and  bear  her 
company  to  her  own  door,  discoursing  of  recent  assemblies  or 
concerts,  from  the  former  of  which  she  had  hitherto  been 
debarred,  and  of  the  last  occasion  on  which  he  had  the  "exquisite 
pleasure  of  seeing  her  at  Ardwick  Green  " — occasions  which  were 
seldom  reported  at  home,  any  more  than  the  chance  meetings 
on  her  way  from  Mr.  Mabbott's;  and  the  reticence,  be  sure, 
boded  no  good. 

Dr.  Hull  had  long  ago  advised  "out-door  exercise"  for  the 
rapidly-growing  girl,  and  there  was  no  embargo  on  her  walks 
abroad,  Mrs.  Ashton  suspecting  no  danger,  and  no  surreptitious 
meetings.  Her  visits  to  the  Green  during  the  long  skating 
season  were  quite  as  unrestrained,  except  that  an  escort  became 
a  necessity.  Occasionally  her  mother  accompanied  her,  sometimes 
Mrs.  Walmsley  and  John  (then  there  was  generally  a  nurse  and 
baby  in  the  rear),  sometimes  Ellen  and  Mrs.  Chadwick ;  and 
Augusta  had  always  returned  so  exhilarated  by  her  country  walk, 
and  so  delighted  with  all  she  had  seen,  that  once  or  twice,  when 
imperative  business  withheld  Mrs.  Ashton  from  bearing  her 
daughter  company,  as  promised,  rather  than  disappoint,  the  lady 
had  made  Mr.  Clegg  her  deputy,  an  honour  on  which  he  perhaps 
set  far  too  high  a  value. 

Mrs.  Ashton  would  have  drawn  herself  up  with  double  dignity, 
and  repudiated  as  an  insult  the  suggestion  of  any  other  of  their 
salesmen  or  clerks  as  an  escort  for  her  beautiful  daughter ;  but 
Jabez  lived  in  the  house,  had  lived  there  so  long,  had  even  from 
her  childhood  been  the  girl's  frequent  guardian,  and  proved 
himself  so  worthy  of  the  trust,  that  she  committed  her  to  his 
care  now  much  as  of  old,  and  perhaps  all  the  more  readily 
because  she  saw,  or  fancied  she  saw,  a  disinclination  on  Miss 
Augusta's  part  to  be  so  accompanied. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  273 

In  March  the  cold  was  as  intense  as  in  January,  and  Miss 
Ashton  as  eager  to  watch  the  skaters.  One  afternoon  towards 
the  close  of  the  month,  when  the  breaking-up  of  the  frost  was 
anticipated,  quite  a  family  party  had  gone  to  the  Green,  wrapped 
n  fur-trimmed  pelisses  of  velvet  or  woollen,  with  fur-rimmed 
hats  and  Brobdignagian  muffs. 

It  was  not  yet  closing  time  when  Mr.  Ashton,  always  disposed 
to  be  friendly  with  Jabez,  accosted  him. 

"The  ladies  are  gone  to  the  Green,  Clegg.  Suppose  you 
lend  me  an  arm  along  the  slippery  roads,  and  we  go  to  meet 
them,  eh?" 

The  sparkling  eyes  of  Jabez  confirmed  his  ready  tongue's 
"With  pleasure,  sir,"  as,  sensible  of  the  honour  done  him,  he  left 
the  sale-room,  whistled  his  black  friend  Nelson  from  the  yard, 
and  they  set  off  at  a  brisk  pace,  to  keep  the  blood  in  circulation, 
the  dog  leaping,  bounding,  and  barking  before  them,  in  token  of 
good  fellowship.  As  they  passed  the  Infirmary  pond,  Jabez 
remarked  that  the  ice  began  to  look  watery,  to  which  Mr. 
Ashton  replied, 

"  Yes ;  I  think  Jack  Frost's  long  visit  is  near  its  end,  and 
there  must  be  some  truth  in  the  old  saw  that  'a  thaw  is  colder 
than  a  frost.'" 

At  that  moment  Mr.  Aspinall's  carriage  rolled  past  them, 
bearing  the  merchant  homewards  in  distinguished  state  (private 
carriages  were  by  no  means  common),  whereat  Mr.  Ashton 
observed  with  a  shrug, 

"How  pride  punishes  itself!  Fancy  a  tall  fellow  like  Mr. 
Aspinall  cramped  up  in  a  stifling  box  upon  wheels  on  a  day 
like  this,  when  he  has  the  free  use  of  his  limbs ! " 

Contrary  to  expectation,  they  did  not  come  in  sight  of  the 
ladies  until  they  gained  the  Green,  which  they  found  a  scene  of 
wild  hubbub  and  commotion ;  skaters  and  spectators  gathering 


274  THB    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

towards  the  centre  of  the  Green,  whence  came  a  confused  noise 
of  voices,  shouting,  crying,  and  screaming. 

The  quick  eye  of  Jabez  was  at  once  arrested  by  the  figure  of 
Augusta  on  the  opposite  bank,  the  centre  of  an  appalled  group, 
wringing  her  hands  in  the  very  impotence  of  terror,  and  as  he 
penetrated  the  excited  crowd,  he  saw  the  hatless  head  of  a 
man,  whose  body  was  submerged,  resting  with  its  chin  upon  a 
ledge  of  the  ice,  which  had  apparently  broken  under  him.  At 
the  first  glance  he  failed  to  distinguish  the  head  from  the  distance, 
and  rushed  forward,  apprehensive  lest  it  should  be  that  of  either  Mr. 
Walmsley  or  his  friend  Travis,  whom  he  knew  to  be  of  the  party. 

Recognition  came,  accompanied  by  a  shock  that  staggered  him. 
If  the  ice  had  attractions  for  Aspinall  and  Walmsley,  Ellen 
Chadwick  had  certainly  as  great  attractions  for  Ben  Travis ;  but 
it  is  certain  that  neither  cousins,  nor  mother,  nor  aunt  were 
sensible  that  they  had  been  drawn  thither  simply  as  a  sort  of 
decorous  train  to  Miss  Augusta  Ashton,  whose  inspiriting  had  in 
turn  been  the  fascinating  lieutenant,  the  most  graceful  and 
accomplished  skater  on  the  pond.  Perhaps  she  hardly  knew  it 
herself,  not  being  given  to  searching  her  own  heart  for  its  motives. 
But  a  hint  from  him  had  set  her  longing  for  "another  sight  of 
the  skating  before  the  chance  was  gone,"  and  her  imperative  will 
no  less  than  her  persuasive  voice  had  swayed  the  rest. 

Laurence  had  made  the  most  of  the  occasion,  glad  of  an 
opportunity  to  cultivate  the  acquaintance  of  the  whole  family, 
and  display  his  graceful  figure,  and  his  skill  to  the  best  advantage. 
Now  and  then  he  joined  the  Chadwicks  and  the  Ashtons  on 
the  bank,  anon  darted  off)  wheeling  hither  and  thither,  so  swift 
in  his  evolutions,  the  eye  could  scarcely  follow  him. 

Amongst  the  skaters  the  man  and  his  feats  stood  out.  He 
was  the  observed  of  all  observers,  and  not  vainer  was  he  of  his 
accomplishments  than  was  Augusta  at  being  singled  out  for 


ON    ARDWICK    GREEN    POND. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  275 

attention  in  the  face  of  so  many  damsels  of  his   acquaintance,  all,  as 
she  foolishly  supposed,  equally  desirous  to  bask  in  the  sun  of  his  smile. 

A  small  match  will  kindle  a  large  flame  if  combustibles  be 
there.  Fired  by  her  too  apparent  satisfaction,  and  Mrs.  Ashton's 
presence,  his  excessive  vanity  induced  him  to  perform  what,  with 
the  imperfect  skates  of  the  period,  was  a  distinguished  feat.  He 
was  ordinarily  proud  of  his  calligraphy.  Now,  he  wound  and 
twisted,  lifted  his  skates  or  dashed  them  down,  until  he  had 
scored  upon  the  ice  an  alphabet  in  bold  capitals ;  but  whether 
he  had  miscalculated  his  space,  or  the  strength  of  the  ice — 
broken  into  for  the  use  of  cattle  at  the  upper  end — or  the  crowd 
of  inquisitive  or  envious  followers  had  been  too  great  for  its 
resistance,  as  he  made  the  last  curl  of  the  letter  Z,  the  ice 
gave  way,  and  he  was  plunged  in  up  to  the  neck,  amid  the 
shrieks  of  women  and  the  shouts  of  men.  His  chin  had  caught 
upon  the  ice  with  a  stunning  blow ;  but  it  rested  there,  and, 
aided  by  the  buoyancy  of  the  water  beneath,  upheld  him  until, 
with  returning  sense,  he  struggled  to  bring  his  shoulders  above 
the  surface,  and  upheave  himself.  He  trod  the  water,  and  it 
sustained  him,  but  the  ice  would  not.  He  was  forced  to  content 
himself  with  the  use  of  his  hands  beneath  as  paddles,  to  relieve 
the  pressure  on  his  chin,  and  wait  for  help,  which  seemed  an 
eternity  in  coming. 

He  had  been  in  the  water  some  time  when  Jabez  and  Mr. 
Ashton  appeared  on  the  scene,  amongst  women  shrieking  with 
affright,  and  men  rushing  about  without  presence  of  mind,  or 
paralysed  to  powerlessness.  Mr.  Travis  alone  appeared  to  have  a 
thought,  and  he  had  sent  for  ropes  and  hatchets  to  cut  a  way 
to  him  through  the  ice  itself.  But  there  was  a  question,  would 
his  strength  hold  out? 

"Will    no    one    save   him?     Will    no    one    save   him?"    cried 
Augusta,  piteously. 


276  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

"  Fifty  pounds  to  him  who  will  save  my  son ! "  was  the  cry 
of  the  frantic  father,  who  had  witnessed  the  accident  from  his 
own  carnage  window.  "  A  hundred  ! — two  hundred  pounds  ! — five 
hundred  pounds  to  anyone  who  will  save  him ! " 

"  It's  noan  a  bit  o'  use,  measter,"  said  a  working  man,  with 
a  shake  of  his  head.  "  Men  wunna  chuck  their  lives  aweay  fur 
brass  ;  an'  yon  ice  is  loike  a  pane  o1  glass  wi'  a  stone  through  it." 
Unfortunately,  impulsive  Ben  Travis  had  darted  forward  to 
his  rescue  at  the  outset,  and  his  ponderous  weight  had  cracked 
the  already  broken  ice  in  all  directions.  He  had  himself  retreated 
with  difficulty  ;  and  now  no  offers  of  reward  would  tempt  men 
to  put  their  own  lives  in  peril,  though  Kit  Townley  was  there, 
urging  others  to  the  attempt,  and  Bob,  the  ex-groom,  had  rushed 
for  ropes  they  had  neither  pluck  nor  skill  to  use,  since  a  noosed 
cord,  flung  like  a  lasso,  would  have  strangled  him. 

"  Oh !  save  him  ;  save  him,  Jabez ! "  implored  Augusta,  as  he 
and  her  father  came  up. 

Jabez  looked  at  her  strangely.  His  head  seemed  to  spin. 
His  face  went  livid  as  that  on  the  ice.  Had  his  secret  devotion 
no  other  end  than  this  ?  True,  she  had  called  him  "  Jabez,"  but 
so  she  had  called  him  in  his  servitude.  She  had  appealed  to  him 
as  one  she  trusted  in  implicitly ;  but  the  appeal  sounded  as 
made  for  one  she  loved,  and  that  was  not  himself,  but  he  who, 
as  boy  and  man,  had  wounded  him  in  soul  and  body.  The 
very  tone  of  her  cry  was  as  a  knell  to  his  hopes  and  himself. 
It  was  his  foe  and  his  rival  who  was  perishing !  Was  he  called 
upon  to  risk  his  life  to  warm  a  serpent  to  sting  him  again? 
The  conflict  in  his  breast  was  sharp  and  terrible.  "If  thine 
enemy  hunger,  give  him  food,"  seemed  to  float  in  his  ears. 

There  was  a  small  gloved  hand  on  his  arm,  a  pale,  sweet  face 
looking  up  into  his.  The  moments  were  flying  fast. 

"  Oh  !  Jabez,  Jabez,   do  try  !  " 


TKB    MANCHESTER    MAN.  277 

"  I   will,"   said  he,   hoarsely. 

Had  he  not  often  declared  in  his  secret  heart  that  he  would 
give  his  life  to  serve  her  ? — and  should  he  be  ungenerous  enough 
to  shrink  now  ? 

"  It  is  folly  to  attempt.  I  forbid  it !  "  exclaimed  Mrs.  Ashton, 
laying  her  hand  on  his  arm.  And  Ellen  Chadwick,  pale  as 
Augusta,  tried  to  stop  him  with — "You  must  not!  you  must 
not !  You  will  perish  ! " 

Even  strangers  from  the  crowd  warned  him  back.  But  he 
was  gone  ere  Mrs.  Chadwick  softly  recalled  her  daughter  to 
herself.  "Hush,  Ellen!  This  is  not  seemly.  Mr.  Clegg  will 
attempt  nothing  impossible." 

He  hurried  to  the  side  nearest  Laurence ;  called  to  him, 
"Keep  up;  help  is  coming!" — asked  for  ladders;  gave  a  word 
or  two  of  instruction  to  Mr.  Ashton  and  Travis  ;  sent  Nelson  on 
the  ice  to  try  its  strength  ;  secured  a  rope  round  his  own  waist ; 
then,  lying  flat  on  the  cold  ice,  cautiously  felt  his  way  to  the 
farther  side  of  Aspinall,  whose  eyes  were  closed,  and  whose 
strength  was  ebbing  fast.  He  hardly  heard  the  words  of  cheer 
addressed  to  him." 

Two  long  ladders  had  been  lashed  side  by  side  to  give 
breadth  of  surface.  These,  by  the  help  of  cords  and  Nelson, 
whose  sagacity  was  akin  to  reason,  he  drew  across  the  cracked 
and  gaping  ice ;  and  crept  slowly  from  rung  to  rung,  watched 
from  the  land  breathlessly,  until  he  reached  his  almost  insensible 
rival.  With  rapidly  benumbing  ringers  he  secured  strong  ropes 
beneath  each  shoulder,  sending  Nelson  back  to  the  bank  with 
the  main  line,  in  case  his  own  strength  was  insufficient  to  lift 
the  dead  weight  of  Laurence,  or  that  the  ice  should  yield  beneath 
the  double  weight. 

Someone  sent   a  brandy-flask  back   by  the   dog. 

"Can  you  swallow?"  he  asked.     There  was  no  answer,  but  a  gurgle. 


278  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

He  moistened  the  blue  lips,  while  the  head  bent  slightly  back, 
introduced  a  small  quantity  of  the  potent  spirit  between  his  set 
teeth ;  and,  having  warmed  himself  by  the  same  means,  essayed 
to  lift  the  freezing  skater,  who  was  almost  powerless  to  aid.  But 
the  latter  with  an  extreme  effort  raised  an  arm  above  the  ice, 
and  grasped  recumbent  Jabez.  And  now  Nelson  proved  his  worth. 
He  set  his  teeth  in  Aspinall's  high  coat-collar,  and  tugged  until 
their  united  strength  drew  him  upwards  and  across  the  ladder 
sledge,  almost  as  stiff  and  helpless  as  a  corpse. 

To  lessen  the  weight,  Jabez  crept  from  the  ladders  ;  they 
were  drawn  to  the  side  with  their  living  freight  before  he  himself 
was  out  of  danger ;  for  the  heavy  pressure  and  the  swift  motion 
set  the  ice  cracking  under  him,  and  with  extreme  difficulty  he 
dragged  himself  to  the  bank  to  sink  down  on  the  hardened 
snow,  overcome  by  the  strain  of  mind  and  muscle,  whilst  the 
approving  crowd  set  up  a  shout,  and  Augusta  Ashton  thanked 
him  tremulously. 

"  I'm  afraid,  Clegg,  you've  spent  your  strength  for  a  dead 
man,"  said  Travis,  grasping  his  hand  warmly,  "and  Aspinall  was 
scarcely  worth  it,  alive  or  dead." 

But  Jabez  made  no  reply.  He  rose  slowly  and  painfully, 
shook  off  the  congratulatory  crowd  of  strangers  and  friends  on 
the  plea  of  needing  to  "warm  and  dry  himself,"  refused  point 
blank  to  accept  the  grateful  hospitality  of  Mr.  Aspinall,  and, 
taking  the  proffered  arm  of  Travis,  turned  towards  the  "  George 
and  Dragon,"  as  little  like  one  who  had  done  a  noble  action  as 
could  be  imagined. 

Mr.  Ashton  followed,  tapping  his  gold  snuff-box  in  wonder 
and  perplexity.  He  saw  that  something  was  wrong,  but  knew 
not  that  Augusta's  hasty  thanks  had  closed  the  young  man's 
heart  against  all  but  its  own  pain. 


r 


CHAPTER    THE    THIRTIETH. 

BLIND  ! 

O  white,  so  cold,  so  still  was  the  rigid  figure  borne 
fr°m  the  pond  to  Mr.  Aspinall's  house,  Travis  might 
well  count  him  "a  dead  man,"  as  the  rumour  ran 
concerning  him,  and  feeble  old  Kitty  sent  up  a 
lamentation  as  over  the  dead. 

Mrs.  Ashton,  who  knew  that  to  be  a  home  without  a  thinking 
woman  at  its  head,  volunteered  her  services,  and  entered  the 
house  with  the  bearers,  leaving  the  trembling  Augusta  with  their 
friends.  She  gently  put  the  old  woman  aside,  and  felt  pulse  and 
heart. 

"There  is  life,"  said  she,  "and  while  there  is  life  there  is  hope. 
Keep  tears  until  there  is  time  to  shed  them  ;  now  we  must  act." 
Then,  turning  to  the  scared  and  scurrying  servants,  she  gave  her 
orders  much  as  though  she  had  been  in  her  own  warehouse,  and 
with  a  stately  authority  there  was  no  disputing. 

The  butler  was  bidden  to  "  bring  brandy,  quick  ! "  The  footman 
was  required  to  "  wheel  this  sofa  to  the  fire  and  pile  up  the  coals !" 
A  maid  was  asked  for  "hot  blankets  without  delay!"  and  moaning 
Kitty  was  set  to  work  to  "help  to  strip  her  young  master  and 
chafe  his  limbs."  And  so  promptly  were  her  clear,  cool  orders 
obeyed,  that  when  the  doctor  arrived  in  hot  haste  with  Mr. 
Aspinall,  half  his  work  was  done.  The  pulse  had  quickened  and 
the  limbs  began  to  glow,  though  the  eyelids  remained  closed. 


280  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

Most  grateful  then  was  Mr.  Aspinall  for  the  efficient  matronly 
service  rendered  to  his  motherless  boy  by  the  stately  lady,  who 
was  drawn  nearer  to  him  in  his  helplessness  by  her  own  kindly  act 
than  by  all  the  conciliatory  visits  and  peace-offerings  with  which 
Laurence  had  himself  sought  to  propitiate  her.  And  for  once  Mr. 
Aspinall  accepted  a  kindness  as  a  favour,  not  as  a  tribute  to  his 
personal  importance,  and  he  placed  his  carriage  at  the  disposal 
of  Mr.  Ashton  and  herself  for  their  return  home  without  a  sign 
of  his  usual  self-inflation. 

His  importance  received  a  considerable  shock,  however,  when 
he  called  at  the  house  in  Mosley  Street  the  following  day  to 
report  progress,  and  relieve  himself  of  his  obligation  to  his  son's 
preserver  by  paying  over  the  five  hundred  pounds  he  had  in 
his  extremity  offered  as  a  reward. 

"I  do  not  think  Mr.  Clegg  will  accept  a  reward,"  said  Mr. 
and  Mrs.  Ashton  in  a  breath. 

"Not  accept  it!"  and  the  portly  figure  seemed  to  swell!  "five 
hundred  pounds  is  a  large  sum  for  a  young  man  in  his  position; 
only  a  fool  or  a  madman  would  refuse  it." 

"Just  so,  just  so,"  replied  Mr.  Ashton,  offering  his  open  snuff- 
box to  his  visitor,  whilst  Mrs.  Ashton  stirred  the  fire  as  a  sort 
of  dubious  disclaimer;  "but  I  think,  for  all  that,  you  will  find 
we  are  right ;  Mr.  Clegg  is  not  a  common  man,  and  is  not 
actuated  by  common  motives. — My  dear?"  He  nodded,  and 
Mrs.  Ashton  pulled  the  bell-rope. 

Mulberry-suited  James   answered   on   the   instant. 

"Mr.   Clegg   is    wanted." 

Mr.  Clegg,  labouring  under  the  disadvantage  of  a  cold  caught 
the  previous  afternoon,  to  which  any  huskiness  of  voice  might 
be  attributed,  obeyed  the  summons.  He  was  presented  duly  to 
Mr.  Aspinall,  and  much  to  that  gentleman's  surprise,  was  invited 
to  take  a  seat. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  28i 

"Absolutely  invited  to  take  a  seat;"  as  he  afterwards  recounted 
in  indignation  to  a  friend ;  "  these  Whigs  have  no  respect  for  a 
gentleman's  feelings." 

Nor  had  Jabez.  He  was  pale  enough  when  he  entered,  but 
his  face  flushed,  his  lips  compressed,  and  the  scar  on  his  brow 
showed  vividly,  as  Mr.  Aspinall  drew  forth  a  roll  of  crisp  bank- 
notes from  his  pocket-book,  and  loftily  offered  to  him  the  reward 
he  had  "earned  by  his  bravery." 

He  flushed,  put  back  the  notes  with  a  movement  of  his  hand, 
and  said,  coldly :  "  You  owe  me  nothing,  sir.  The  meanest 
creature  on  God's  earth  should  have  freely  such  service  as  I 
rendered  to  your  son.  I  cannot  set  a  price  on  life." 

But  I  offered  the  reward,  and  the  fact  is,  I  must  discharge 
the  debt.  Reconsider,  young  man,  it  is  a  *  large  sum  ;  many  a 
man  starts  the  world  with  less." 

"A  large  sum  to  pay  for  your  son's  life,  or  for  mine,  sir?" 
interrogated  Jabez,  drawing  himself  up  stiffly ;  adding,  without 
waiting  for  reply,  "  I  do  not  sell  such  service,  sir.  You  owe  me 
nothing.  Let  your  son  thank  Miss  Ashton  for  his  life ;  he  is 
her  debtor,  not  mine." 

The  words  seemed  to  rasp  over  a  nutmeg-grater,  they  came 
so  hoarsely,  as  did  his  request  for  leave  to  withdraw ;  and  he 
closed  the  door  on  the  five  hundred  pounds,  and  on  the  smiles 
of  husband  and  wife,  before  the  rebuffed  cotton  merchant  could 
master  his  indignation  to  reply. 

The  notes  in  his  palm  were  light  enough,  but  lying  there  they 
represented  liberality  contemned ;  a  debt  unpaid ;  an  undischarged 
obligation  to  an  inferior;  and  not  thrice  their  value  in  gold 
could  have  pressed  so  heavily  on  Mr.  Aspinall  as  that  last 
consideration.  The  frigid  manner  of  Jabez  he  construed  into 
Radical  impudence ;  he  resented  the  salesman's  repudiation  of 
reward  as  a  personal  affront,  and  did  not  scruple  to  express  his 


282  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

views  openly,  then  and  there,  winding  up  with  a  question  which 
startled  his  interlocutors. 

"What  did  the  singular  young  man  mean  by  his  reference  to 
Miss  Ashton?" 

Had  they  followed  the  "  singular  young  man "  across  the  hall 
to  the  sanctuary  of  his  own  sitting-room,  seen  him  dash  himself 
down  into  a  chair,  and  bury  his  head  in  his  hands  on  the  table 
with  unutterable  anguish  on  his  face,  and  heard  burst  from  his 
lips — more  as  a  groan  than  embodied  thought — "Oh,  Augusta, 
adored  Augusta,  what  a  presumptuous  madman  I  have  been ! " 
— they  would  but  have  had  half  the  answer.  But  had  they 
mounted  the  polished  oaken  stairs  to  the  dainty  chamber  where 
Augusta  Ashton  lay  in  bed  with  a  "  cruel  headache,"  brought  on 
by  the  fright,  and  eyes  red  with  weeping  at  the  catastrophe 
which  had  befallen  her  adorable  admirer,  the  gallant  lieutenant, 
and  heard  her  half-audible  lamentations,  the  answer  might  have 
been  complete. 

Mrs.  Ashton  had  heard  Augusta's  frantic  appeal  to  Jabez  at 
the  pond,  had  seen  him  stagger  and  turn  livid  as  if  shot,  noted 
the  inward  struggle  ere  he  said,  "  I  will ;"  but  she  had  ascribed 
it  to  old  and  unforgiven  injuries,  and  thinking  it  hard  that  he 
should  be  called  upon  to  hazard  his  life  for  his  known  enemy  with 
chances  so  heavy  against  him,  had  herself  forbidden  the  attempt. 
This  was  all  the  solution  she  had  to  offer  Mr.  Aspinall.  In  the 
excitement  of  the  accident  and  the  rescue,  she  had  overlooked 
Augusta's  excessive  emotion,  but  now  her  mother's  heart  took 
alarm.  Could  it  be  that  the  younger  eyes  of  Jabez  had  seen  a 
preference  for  the  handsome  scapegrace  which  she  had  not? 

The  matter  was  talked  over  by  husband  and  wife  long  after 
Mr.  Aspinall  had  left ;  and  the  anxious  mother  questioned  the 
maiden  in  the  privacy  of  her  own  room,  to  come  thence  with 
the  sad  conviction  that  Augusta  had  prematurely  been  led  captive 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  283 

by  a  handsome  face  and  a  dashing  air,  irrespective  of  worth  or 
worthlessness.  Yet  she  consoled  herself  and  Mr.  Ashton  with  the 
reflection,  "It  is,  after  all,  only  a  girlish  fancy,  and  will  die  out." 

"Just  so,  and  as  the  young  rake  is  laid  by  the  leg  for  one 
while,  there  is  all  the  more  chance,"  assented  Mr.  Ashton. 

"If  his  immersion  does  not  convert  him  into  a  hero,"  added 
the  matron,  with  a  clearer  knowledge  of  her  daughter.  Yet 
neither  asked  themselves  how  the  intuitive  perception  of  Jabez 
came  to  be  more  acute  than  their  own,  nor  what  power  impelled 
him  to  risk  his  life  for  an  enemy  at  the  mere  bidding  of  Augusta. 
Indeed,  they  set  the  hazardous  exploit  down  to  the  score  of 
magnanimity  and  bravery  only. 

Equally  unobservant  were  they  of  Ellen  Chadwick's  remonstrance, 
or  her  feverish  watch  of  every  perilous  turn  Jabez  and  Nelson 
had  taken  on  the  ice,  or  of  the  caresses  she  lavished  on  the  dog 
when  all  was  over.  Only  Mrs.  Chadwick  had  seen  that,  as  she 
had  seen  fainter  signs  years  before ;  but  she  held  her  peace,  and, 
having  a  leaven  of  her  sister's  pride,  "hoped  she  was  mistaken." 

There  were  three  young  hearts  consumed  by  the  same  passion — 
that  which  lies  at  the  root  of  the  happiness  or  misery  of  the  world, 
— one  nursing  the  romance,  two  fighting  against  its  hopelessness  in 
silence  and  concealment;  but  "the  race  is  not  always  to  the 
swift,  nor  the  battle  to  the  strong." 

Jabez  Clegg  could  not  tell  when  he  had  not  loved  Augusta 
Ashton,  from  the  time  wherfshe  was  young  enough  to  play  about 
the  ware-rooms,  or  to  be  lifted  across  the  muddy  roadways  in  his 
strong  apprentice  arms,  when  it  was  his  pleasant  duty  to  protect 
her  to  and  from  school.  But  he  could  trace  back  the  time  when 
Hogarth's  prints  gave  to  that  love  a  definite  shape,  and  he  began 
to  look  upon  his  master's  daughter  as  a  prize  to  be  attained. 
All  things  had  tended  to  confirm  his  belief  in  its  possibility,  and 
love  and  ambition  had  gone  hand  in  hand,  and  fed  each  other. 


284  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

The  child  had  come  to  him  for  companionship  and  entertainment, 
the  girl  under  his  protection  had  confided  to  him  her  school-day 
troubles,  and  come  to  him  for  help  in  difficulties,  with  lessons  on 
slate  or  book.  She  had  looked  up  to  him,  trusted  him,  clung 
to  him ;  and  though  she  was  as  a  star  in  his  firmament,  he 
had  had  a  sort  of  vague  impression  that  the  star  which  shone 
upon  him  from  afar  would  draw  nearer,  and,  as  he  rose  to  it, 
come  down  to  meet  him. 

His  first  sharp  awakening  was  her  reminder  that  the  pair  of 
intoxicated  officers  who  had  insulted  her  in  the  theatre  were 
"gentlemen,"  and  so  not  to  be  chastised  by  him.  His  second — 
and  then  jealousy  added  a  sting — was  meeting  Aspinall  face  to 
face  in  the  hall,  when  the  latter  smilingly  bowed  himself  out 
on  his  first  visit.  And  now  he  brooded  in  despair  over  the  final 
dissipation  of  his  dream  beneath  the  icicle-hung  boughs  on  Ardwick 
Green  ;  for  the  first  time  conscious  that  she  belonged  to  another 
sphere.  . 

Never  by  look  or  word  had  he  done  himself,  or  her,  or  her 
parents,  the  dishonour  of  giving  expression  to  his  ambitious 
love ;  and  now  another  had  looked  on  his  divinity,  and  won  he 
for  himself.  It  came  upon  him  like  a  flash  when  that  white- 
faced  agony,  that  piteous  cry,  called  him  to  imperil  his  own  life, 
— worthless  in  the  scale  against  another,  and  that  other.  It 
came  upon  him  with  a  flash  that  scathed  like  lightning.  He 
had  forgiven  the  boy  Aspinall  long  ago ;  and  the  man — well, 
Augusta's  happiness  demanded  the  sacrifice,  and  he  had  made 
it.  Out  of  his  very  love  for  Augusta  he  had  saved  the  rival's 
life  she  had  prayed  for.  And  he  had  been  offered  money  for 
the  act  which  wrecked  his  own  life.  Thank  God  he  had  rejected 
it  with  scorn ! 

A  kind  hand  laid  on  his  shoulder  interrupted  a  reverie  which 
had  induced  torpor* 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  285 

"Mr.   Clegg,  you   are    ill— your    cold    requires    attention.      You 
had   better  seek  repose :    you   are   quite   feverish." 

Repose!  The  man's  soul  was  on  fire,  as  well  as  his  body. 
Yet  from  his  chamber  a  fortnight  later  emerged  a  grave 
business  man,  without  an  apparent  thought  beyond  the  warehouse. 
And  what  of  Laurence  Aspinall,  whom  we  left  with  closed 
eyes,  wrapped  in  blankets,  on  a  sofa?  He  had  hung  suspended 
in  the  water  for  an  hour  by  the  clock  in  the  tower  of  St. 
Thomas'  ivy-clad  church  ;  and,  notwithstanding  he  had  kept  his 
limbs  and  the  water  in  motion  so  long  as  he  had  power,  the 
chill  had  extended  upwards,  and  though  life  had  been  called 
back,  sight  and  reason  were  in  abeyance. 

Shorn  of  his  rich  curls,  for  weeks  he  raved  and  struggled  in 
the  grasp  of  brain  fever ;  and  old  Kitty,  forgetting  everything 
but  her  promise  to  his  dead  mother,  watched  and  tended  him 
night  and  day,  albeit  nurses  from  the  Fever-Ward  relieved  each 
other  in  their  well-paid  care  of  him. 

The  frost  was  gone ;  vegetation,  bound  so  long,  had  leapt 
upwards  from  its  chains.  Lilacs  and  may  buds  greeted  him 
with  perfume  through  the  open  windows,  and  even  the  daffodil 
and  narcissus  sent  up  their  incense  from  the  brim  of  the  garden 
pond  when  he  began  to  show  signs  of  amendment. 

"  Better,"  "  Much  better,"  were  the  answers  to  inquirers  (among 
whom  may  be  'cited  Kit  Townley,  and  Bob,  their  sometime 
groom) ;  but  the  lilac  and  the  hawthorn  ripened  and  faded,  and 
the  daffodils  gave  place  to  the  wallflower  and  carnation,  and  the 
rosebuds  opened  their  ripe  lips  to  June,  yet  the  rich  cotton 
merchant's  son  saw  nothing  of  the  glow. 

Over  the  blue  eyes  of  Laurence  the  lids  were  closed,  and  not 
an  oculist  in  the  town  had  skill  to  open  them.  Dr.  Hull,  the 
consulting  physician  of  the  Eye  Institution,  and  his  surgical 
colleagues,  Messrs.  Wilson  and  Travers,  had  laid  their  heads 


286  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

together  over  a  case  peculiar  in  all  its  bearings,  but  the  lids 
remained  obstinately  shut. 

At  length,  when  Hope  had  folded  her  drooping  wings  in 
despair,  and  Mr.  Aspinall  was  borne  down  with  grief  for  his 
sightless  son,  someone  suggested  that,  as  water  had  done  the 
mischief,  water  in  action  might  cure  it. 

"  Can   he   swim  ? "   asked   rough  Dr.    Hull   curtly   of  Kitty. 

"  Swim  ?  ay,  he  can  do  owt  he  shouldna  do,"  replied  the  old 
woman,  having  no  faith  in  the  value  of  her  charge's  peculiar 
accomplishments. 

"  Is  he  a   good   swimmer  ?  " 

"  Aw  reckon  so !  He  used  to  swim  fur  wagers  i'  Ardy 
(Ardwick)  Green  Pond  when  he  wur  quoite  a  little  chap." 

"That  will  do." 

Mr.  Aspinall  was  conferred  with,  and  the  next  day's  mail 
coach  took  the  blind  patient,  his  father,  Kitty,  and  one  of  the 
surgeons  to  Liverpool.  After  a  night's  rest  at  the  York  Hotel, 
they  were  driven  down  to  St.  George's  Pier,  a  very  humble 
presentment  of  what  it  is  in  this  our  day.  Like  Manchester, 
Liverpool  has  vastly  swelled  in  size  and  importance  within  the 
last  fifty  years,  and  her  docks  have  grown  with  the  shipping 
needing  shelter.  The  Mersey  was  not  the  crowded  highway  it 
is  now — there  were  fewer  ships  and  no  steamers  to  cross  each 
other's  track,  and  set  the  waters  in  commotion,  defying  wind 
and  tide. 

Mr.  Aspinall  had  engaged  a  boat  to  be  in  readiness.  The 
sightless  athlete  was  rowed  a  short  distance  from  curious  spectators 
on  the  pier,  and  then,  his  face  being  turned  towards  Birkenhead, 
he  plunged  into  the  swelling  river,  which  he  breasted  like  a 
Triton,  so  welcome  and  native  seemed  the  element  to  him.  And 
as  the  salt  wave  buoyed  him  up,  or  dashed  over  his  cropped 
head,  he  appeared  to  gain  fresh  strength  with  every  stroke. 


THE   MANCHESTER    MAN.  287 

Anxiously  his  three  attendants  followed  in  his  wake,  lest 
cramp  should  seize  him,  or  his  impaired  strength  give  out  before 
the  river — there  rather  more  than  a  mile  in  breadth — could  be 
crossed.  Yet  not  a  yard  of  the  distance  bated  he. 

By  instruction  he  had  bent  his  course  slightly  down  stream, 
so  as  to  meet  the  opposing  tide,  then  rolling  in  with  a  freshet. 
He  struck  out  boldly,  the  very  dash  of  the  salt  waves  invigorating 
him  as  they  broke  over  his  bare  poll,  or  laved  his  naked  limbs. 
Still  well  in  advance  of  the  boat,  he  seemed  at  last  to  cross 
the  current  as  a  conqueror.  He  touched  the  shore  at  Rock 
Ferry,  and — miracle  of  miracles  ! — his  eyes  were  opened.  Laurence 
Aspinall,  who  for  weeks  had  cursed  his  darkened  existence,  could 
once  more  see ! 


Q 


CHAPTER    THE    THIRTY-FIRST.* 

CORONATION    DAY. 

ISFORTUNE  binds  closer  than  prosperity.  The 
calamity  which  tied  Laurence  Aspinall  down  in  a 
strait-waistcoat  to  a  bed  of  fever,  with  shaven  head 
and  sightless  eyes,  touched  the  Ashtons  in  a  tender 
point.  Themselves  the  parents  of  an  only  child,  the  very  crown 
and  glory  of  their  lives,  their  sympathies  went  forth  to  Mr. 
Aspinall  in  spite  of  his  haughty  assumption.  Indeed,  distress 
brought  him  down  to  the  common  level  of  humanity,  and  having 
neither  sister,  aunt,  nor  cousin  to  undertake  the  care  of  his  sick 
son  for  love,  and  not  for  fee,  he  learned  the  comparative 
powerlessness  of  wealth,  and  hailed  with  all  the  gratitude  in  his 
nature  the  occasional  visits  of  Mrs.  Ashton,  in  whose  stately 
bearing,  no  doubt,  he  recognised  a  sort  of  kinship. 

It  was,  however,  not  Mrs.  Ashton  the  business  woman,  not 
Mrs.  Ashton  the  lofty  lady,  but  Mrs.  Ashton  the  mother  who 
laid  her  cool  hand  on  the  young  man's  fevered  forehead, 
questioned  the  nurses,  made  suggestions  for  the  benefit  of  the 
invalid,  and  by  means  of  a  "  Ladies'  Free  Registry "  in  Chapel 
Walk,  found  a  staid  woman  of  experience  to  act  as  housekeeper 
and  bring  the  disorganised  household  into  order  without  treading 
on  the  toes  of  attached  but  incapable  Kitty. 

The  head  of  Antinous  shorn  of  its  glorious  locks,  swathed 
in  lotion-cloths,  tossing  in  delirium,  would  scarcely  appear  so 

*  See  Appendix. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  289 

attractive  as  to  fill  the  most  timid  mother  with  fears  for  a 
romantic  daughter's  heart,  and  so,  whilst  sympathy  was  awake, 
vigilance  slumbered.  Yet  never  need  vigilance  have  been  more 
awake.  She  saw  him  as  he  was — Augusta,  as  he  had  been. 
Through  other  channels  than  the  maternal  she  heard  of  his 
condition  from  day  to  day,  and  how  in  his  delirium  he  had 
mixed  up  her  name  with  the  slang  of  the  cock-pit,  the  race- 
course, and  the  prize-ring;  but  with  strange  infatuation  she 
ignored  all  that  should  have  warned,  and  clung  to  all  that  was 
pleasant  to  her  own  self-love.  Never  had  she  been  so  assiduous 
in  her  visits  to  her  aunt  Chadwick  and  her  cousin  Walmsley, 
and  her  smiling  "I've  brought  my  work  and  come  to  sit  with 
you  this  afternoon,"  should  have  been  translated,  "  I  hope  John 
or  Mr.  Travis  will  drop  in.  They  are  sure  to  have  something 
to  say  about  Mr.  Laurence  ;  it  is  so  dreadful  not  to  know  how 
he  is  going  on." 

And  pretty  generally  her  calculations  were  correct.  The  two 
gentlemen  were  interested  in  Aspinall  as  a  member  of  their 
yeomanry  corps,  apart  from  private  friendship,  and  were  constant 
in  their  inquiries,  even  finding  their  way  to  his  bedside ;  and 
Mr.  Benjamin  Travis,  who  could  not  very  well  every  day  manage 
to  meet  Mr.  Chadwick  accidentally  on  his  way  from  the 
warehouse  and  lend  his  stout  arm  as  a  support,  appeared  only 
too  glad  to  be  the  bearer  of  bulletins  from  Ardwick  as  an 
excuse  for  calling  in  Oldham  Street  and  hovering  about  the 
chair  or  the  window  where  Ellen  Chadwick  sat  at  her  sewing  or 
knitting  and  grew  silent  on  his  entrance,  blushing  when  she 
heard  his  footstep  or  his  voice  in  the  hall,  from  motives  sadly 
misinterpreted. 

There  was  no  mistaking  the  true  purport  of  his  frequent 
visits  and  assiduous  attention  to  the  crippled  old  gentleman,  so 
Augusta,  having  settled  in  her  own  mind  that  Ellen  was  either 


2go 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


too  reserved  or  too  shy  to  give  her  big,  good-natured,  but  timid 
lover  proper  encouragement,  took  upon  herself  to  play  into  his 
hands  and  make  opportunities  for  his  wooing. 

"What  a  delightful  afternoon  for  a  walk!"  Whether  he  or 
she  made  the  observation,  the  other  was  sure  to  assent,  and 
then  wilful  Miss  Augusta,  unaccustomed  to  be  gainsaid,  and 
seconded  by  her  aunt,  also  a  secret  ally  of  Ben  Travis,  would 
drag  her  cousin  forth  in  defiance  of  any  excuse  or  protestation, 
to  the  undisguised  satisfaction  of  their  magnificent  cavalier. 

It  was  remarkable  that  on  these  occasions,  whether  they  took 
their  way  up  Ancoats,  or  Dale  Street,  or  Piccadilly,  or  Garret 
Road,  they  would  eventually  be  led  so  near  to  Ardwick  Green 
that  it  would  have  been  unkind  had  not  Mr.  Travis  "  just 
stepped  across  to  see  how  Mr.  Laurence  progressed." 

And  so,  too,  whenever  she  went  abroad  with  Cicily  at  her 
heels,  or  when  Cicily  was  sent  on  errands,  nothing  would 
content  her  imperative  young  mistress  but  that  she  should  hasten 
(whether  in  her  way  or  out  of  it),  with  "Mrs.  Ashton's 
compliments,"  to  ascertain  the  condition  of  the  invalid  scapegrace. 

Many  a  scolding  did  breathless  Cicily  get  in  consequence 
from  angry  Kezia,  the  queen  of  the  kitchen,  which  Augusta 
paid  her  messenger  for  with  coins,  or  ribbons,  or  kerchiefs,  or 
smooth  words,  as  might  be  most  convenient  at  the  time.  And 
Mrs.  Ashton  was  accredited  by  the  Aspinalls  with  a  degree  of 
attention  never  contemplated  by  herself. 

But  there  was  one  person  in  the  house  Augusta  avoided 
from  that  afternoon  at  the  end  of  March,  when  her  fascinating 
hero  would  have  lost  his  life  but  for  a  much  humbler  hero,  of 
less  pretension  and  fewer  attractions.  She  might  have  been  blind 
as  father  and  mother  to  his  attachment  until  that  afternoon  ;  but 
that  one  wild,  impassioned,  agonized  look  of  Jabez  into  her  eyes 
had  opened  them  for  ever :  she  felt  she  had  tasked  him  beyond 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  291 

human  endurance,  and  was  ashamed  to  look  him  in  the 
face. 

The  presumption  of  the  ex-apprentice  paled  before  his  devotion 
and  self-abnegation,  but,  self-conscious,  after  that  first  outburst  of 
thanks  on  the  Green,  she  had  shrunk  from  meeting  him  in  hall  or 
on  staircase,  and  had  always  a  reason  ready  why  he  should  not  be 
invited  to  their  own  tea-table  when  father  or  mother  proposed  it. 

Public  events  march  on  irrespective  of  private  joys  or  sorrows, 
and  no  individual  goes  out  into  the  world  after  three  months' 
seclusion  to  find  things  just  as  he  left  them.  The  first  use 
Laurence  Aspinall  made  of  his  eyes  was  to  look  at  himself  in  a 
mirror ;  the  second,  on  his  return  to  Manchester,  to  select  a 
substitute  for  the  clustering  curls  of  which  he  had  been  despoiled. 
Closely  shut  in  the  carriage  which  Mr.  Ashton  had  lightly  designated 
a  box,  he  was  driven  down  Market  Street,  to  discover  that  the 
Spirit  of  Improvement,  "fell  bane  of  all  that's  picturesque,"  had 
touched  the  ancient,  many-gabled,  black-and-white  houses  with 
which  his  earliest  recollections  were  associated,  and  they  were 
crumbling  into  dusty  ruins  before  the  potent  incantation  "  Space." 
It  was  the  beginning  of  a  very  necessary  widening  of  the  main 
thoroughfares  of  the  growing  commercial  metropolis ;  but  the 
blanks  in  the  narrow  street  took  Laurence  by  surprise. 

There  was  a  newspaper  the  more  for  his  restored  sight  to 
scan,  albeit  the  Manchester  Guardian,  which  Jeremiah  Garnett 
and  John  Edward  Taylor  first  gave  to  the  world  on  the  fifth 
of  May,  was  scarcely  likely  to  take  his  view  of  party  politics, 
or  of  his  share  in  the  "  Peterloo  massacre,"  which  was  still  a 
disturbing  element  in  the  town.  Just  now  the  paper,  which  he 
found  at  the  perruquier's,  was  given  over  to  the  discussion  of 
the  approaching  coronation  of  George  IV.,  which  likewise  formed 
the  theme  of  conversation,  not  only  at  the  wig-maker's,  but 
whithersoever  he  turned  when  once  more  presentable. 


292  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Somehow,  though  he  found  his  way  to  the  warehouse,  and  the 
Cockpit,  and  the  Assembly  Billiard  Club,  and  to  Tib  Street,  where 
Bob  the  groom  had  a  pretty  daughter  very  much  at  the  young 
man's  disposal,  he  did  not  present  himself  at  his  Mosley  Street 
friend's  as  soon  as  might  have  been  expected,  considering  all 
things ;  and  Augusta,  in  the  most  becoming  of  morning  robes, 
watching  with  eager  expectation  for  his  coming,  began  to  pant 
and  chill  with  the  sickness  of  hope  deferred.  He  was  by  no 
means  the  only  admirer  of  the  lovely  heiress,  and  was  sufficiently 
desirous  to  complete  his  conquest  before  other  competitors  were 
fairly  in  the  field  ;  but  he  was  in  perplexity  how  to  deal  with 
Jabez  Clegg,  who  stood  in  his  way  after  another  sort.  He  was 
grateful — after  a  fashion — for  the  preservation  of  his  life ;  but 
ungrateful,  inasmuch  as  Jabez  was  the  preserver. 

"  Hang  it ! "  said  he,  in  conference  with  himself,  as  he  tied  on  a 
neck-cloth  at  the  glass,  "  if  the  fellow  had  but  taken  the  five 
hundred  pounds,  there'd  have  been  an  end  of  it ;  and  one  could 
have  wiped  one's  hands  of  him.  What  right  had  the  beggarly 
charity-boy  to  refuse  a  reward,  as  if  he  were  a  gentleman,  I  should 
like  to  know  ?  I  wonder  what  Kit  Townley  and  Walmsley  were 
about — the  cowardly  ninnies — to  let  an  upstart  like  that  pull  me 
out  of  the  hole.  I'd  almost  as  lief  have  been  drowned." 

And  away  went  a  spoiled  cravat  across  the  room  in  his 
temper,  and  he  rummaged  for  a  fresh  one,  to  the  detriment  of 
linen,  as  he  went  on — 

"There's  one  thing  positive,  I  must  either  bring  down  my 

pride  or  give  up  the  girl,  and  be  d d  to  it!  That  old 

Ashton,  with  his  'Just  so!'  like  a  cuckoo,  would  certainly  shut 
the  door  in  my  face  if  I  neglected  to  make  a  set  speech  and 
thank  his  precious  protege,  who  knocks  you  down  with  one  hand 
and  picks  you  up  with  the  other.  Well,  I  don't  feel  inclined 
to  surrender  the  finest  girl  in  Lancashire,  and  with  such  a 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  293 

fortune  as  she'll  have,  so  I'm  in  for  it.  I  must  make  a  virtue 
of  necessity.  Egad !  I'll  write  to  this  Mr.  Clegg.  No,  I  won't. 
It  would  be  a  feather  in  his  cap  to  have  a  thanksgiving  letter 
of  mine  to  exhibit." 

Having  at  length  determined  his  course,  Mr.  Laurence  betook 
himself  to  Mosley  Street,  made  his  bow  duly  and  gracefully  to 
Mrs.  Ashton  and  the  young  lady,  keeping  the  hand  of  the  latter 
as  long  within  his  own  as  etiquette  would  permit,  and  sending 
the  warm  blood  mantling  to  her  cheek,  with  a  supplicating 
glance  of  devotion  as  potent  as  words.  Then,  with  some  little 
prolixity,  he  professed  his  desire  to  "thank  his  noble  preserver" 
for  the  life  he  had  saved  ;  and  at  his  request  Mr.  Clegg  (whom 
he  might  just  as  well  have  thanked  in  the  warehouse  without 
ceremony)  was  sent  for.  Coming  into  the  parlour  all  unwittingly 
as  he  did,  to  find  Laurence  Aspinall,  handsome  as  ever,  and 
more  interesting  from  illness,  standing  under  the  lacquered-serpent 
chandelier  in  close  proximity  to  Augusta,  sparkling  with  animation, 
and  blushing  like  the  rose  he  had  just  offered  her  with  a 
pretty  simile,  his  emotions  so  overmastered  him  that  the 
polished  gentleman  had  him  at  a  disadvantage,  and  shone  in 
comparison. 

Both  Augusta  and  her  mother  noted  the  contrast  between  the 
elegant  manner,  suave  tones,  and  rounded  periods  of  Laurence 
Aspinall's  thanks  and  the  curt  disclaimer  of  Jabez,  though  their 
deductions  were  different.  Augusta  was  in  raptures  with  the 
rose-giver.' 

"  Ah !  my  dear,  all  is  not  gold  that  glitters.  There  is  more 
sterling  metal  in  your  father's  salesman,  mark  my  words,  than 
in  the  tinselled  lieutenant,"  was  the  summing-up  of  the  elder, 
as  she  replaced  cake  and  wine  in  sideboard  and  cellaret.  She 
was  clearly  no  friend  to  Aspinall  now  that  he  had  recovered 
sense  and  sight. 


294.  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

The  town,  which  had  been  strong  and  outspoken  in  its 
condemnation  of  the  new  king  during  the  trial  of  Queen  Caroline, 
was  now  all  alive  with  preparations  to  celebrate  his  coronation 
with  befitting  magnificence,  one  branch  of  trade  vicing  with 
another  which  should  make  the  greatest  display  in  the  coming 
procession  to  the  Green,  the  like  of  which  never  had  been,  and 
never  would  be  again.  And  this  competition,  productive  of 
marvellous  results — due,  in  a  great  measure,  to  trade  rivalry  and 
an  ambitious  desire  to  outshine — was  set  down  by  historians, 
rightly  or  wrongly,  as  a  proof  of  the  excessive  loyalty  of  the 
Mancestrians. 

In  all  classes,  from  the  highest  to  the   lowest,  something  was 

being   done,  and   nothing  was   talked  of,    thought  of,   dreamed   of, 

but    the    coronation    and    the    procession.      In    courts    and    alleys 

there    were    making,    and   mending,   and    washing;    and    no    little 

pinching  was  undergone  by  hard-working  fathers   and   mothers   to 

provide  the  girls  with  white  cambric  frocks,  tippets,  and  net  caps,  or 

the  lads  with  fresh  jackets  and   breeches   and   shoes,  so  as  not   to 

disgrace  the  Sunday  schools  under  whose  banners  they  were  to  walk. 

The   finest  horses   of    the    Old   Quay   Company   and   Pickford's 

were  put   into   new  harness   and    the    finest    condition,   and   every 

lurry   (a  long,   flat,    sideless    waggon)  was    called  into  requisition. 

Smiths,  saddlers,   sign   and  scene  painters,  were  at  work  day  and 

night  for  weeks ;   and    such    was    the    request    for    banners    that 

ladies  undertook  the  work  when  skilled  labour  was  not  to  be  found. 

The   important  ceremony  was  fixed   for  the   iQth   of  July.     On 

the  1 7th  a  deputation  of  small-ware  weavers  waited  on  Mr.  Ashton 

in   despair.    They   could   get   neither  flag  nor  banner  ;   the  painter 

had   thrown   over  the  order  at  the  last   moment. 

"An'  Tummy  Worthington's  getten  a  foine  un,  measter.  It'll 
be  a  sheame  an'  a  disgrace  to  us  o'  if  we  let  Worthington's 
cut  us  eawt." 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  295 

[The   said   Worthington   was  a   rival   small-ware   manufacturer.] 

Mr.  Ashton  had  recourse  to  his  snuff-box,  and  then  to  his 
wife. 

"My  dear,  what  is  to  be  done?  There  will  be  no  flag.  The 
painters  cannot  execute  the  jobs  in  hand.  Worthington's  have  a 
fine  one  I  hear." 

"  No  flag !  That  will  never  do.  We  must  have  a  flag.  Let 
me  consider." 

Ellen  Chadwick  was  busy  helping  Augusta  to  make  favours 
for  the  men.  She  looked  up. 

"Do  you  not  think  Mr.  Clegg  could  paint  you  one?"  she 
suggested. 

Mr.  Ashton  brightened,  but  his  "Just  so!"  was  nipped  in  the 
bud  by  the  recollection  that  there  was  no  time. 

"Where  there's  a  will  there's  a  way,"  said  Mrs.  Ashton,  and 
sought  out  Jabez. 

"  It  is  quite  out  of  my  line,  but  I  can  try.  It  would  be  a 
pity  to  disappoint  the  men,"  answered  he. 

"  And  nothing   beats   trying   but   doing,"   added    Mrs.   Ashton. 

Silk  and  colours  were  procured.  There  was  no  leisure  for 
complex  design  or  elaboration.  At  that  time  the  dark  blue 
covers  of  the  Dutch  tapes  in  gross  bore  the  symbolic  device  of 
the  flax  plant  within  a  rude  scroll.  This  Jabez  transferred  in 
colours  to  his  silk  on  a  colossal  scale,  both  sides  bearing  the 
same  emblem  of  their  trade,  more  effective  on  its  completion 
than  any  elaborate  work.  He  had  bargained  to  be  left  without 
interruption.  The  men  fidgeted  about  the  warehouse  in  a  state 
of  nervous  trepidation  (it  was  an  important  matter  to  them),  but 
at  dawn  on  the  ipth  it  was  finished,  and  borne  off  by  the 
weavers  in  triumph  and  exultation. 

Market  Street  Lane  being  in  ruins  at  one  end,  and  a  narrow 
gully  at  the  other,  Mosley  Street  became  the  natural  course  for 


296  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

the  procession  (two  miles  and  a  half  in  length)  from  Peter's  Field 
to  the  Green,  where  a  royal  salute  was  to  be  fired ;  and  like 
every  other  house  on  the  line  of  route,  Mr.  Ashton's  was  filled 
with  guests,  and  from  garret  to  basement  every  window  had  its 
streamer,  and  was  crowded  with  gaily-dressed  spectators,  mostly 
feminine,  the  gentlemen  of  the  town  taking  part  in  the  procession, 
officially  or  otherwise.  The  Chadwicks  and  Mrs.  Walmsley  were 
there  of  course,  and  Mrs.  Clough  amongst  others ;  and  on  another 
floor  Jabez — who  being  above  the  warehousemen,  and  not  a 
master,  did  not  walk — had  as  a  companion  good  Bess  Hulme, 
who  with  her  husband  had  come  over  from  Whaley  Bridge,  where 
there  was,  of  course,  a  holiday.  To  Tom  had  been  assigned  the 
honour  of  chief  standard  bearer. 

In  all  such  processions  the  military  element,  with  its  brilliant 
uniforms  and  stirring  music,  prevails.  But  here  (where  every  item 
of  the  cavalcade  had  its  own  brass  band)  were  also  all  the 
dignitaries  of  the  church,  with  every  silver  badge  of  office 
resplendently  burnished  for  the  occasion ;  the  borough-reeve,  and 
other  magistrates,  and  constabulary,  in  new  uniforms  ;  the  lamp- 
lighters with  new  smocks,  carrying  their  ladders  and  cans ;  the 
firemen  and  fire-engines,  bright  as  paint  and  polish  could  make 
them  ;  the  gentlemen  of  the  town,  all  with  favours ;  the  Sunday- 
school  children,  marshalled  under  their  respective  banners  or 
tablets,  walking  six  abreast;  the  Ladies'  Jubilee  School;  the 
Green-Coat  School;  and  the  Blue-Coat  School,  on  which  Jabez 
looked  down  with  curiously-mingled  feelings. 

But  the  marked  feature  of  the  magnificent  procession  was  the 
display  made  by  the  trades,  with  their  banners,  a  lurry  accompanying 
each,  bearing  well-dressed  workmen  and  machines  in  full  operation. 

At  the  head  of  these  came  two  figures,  representing  Adam  and 
Eve,  in  a  perfect  bower  of  greenery,  as  representatives  of  the 
primitive  condition  before  dress  was  invented.  They  were  followed 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  297 

by  a  lurry,  on  which  tailors  (whose  art  is  the  first  on  record)  sat 
cross-legged,  and  stitched  and  pressed,  as  if  on  a  shopboard, 
whilst  a  select  band  of  journeymen  walked  after,  bearing  minature 
garments  on  wands,  or  ferruginous  geese  and  sleeveboards. 

The  blacksmiths  wrought  on  their  anvil,  and  carried  also  on 
long  poles,  horse-shoes,  &c.  The  brass  and  copper  smiths,  likewise 
at  work,  had  a  bright  array  of  kettles,  candlesticks,  and  a  mounted 
man  in  armour,  as  had  also  the  tin-plate  workers.  The  glass- 
blowers  made  a  goodly  array,  and  gave  away  tokens  as  they 
went.  The  men  wore  hats  and  caps  brittle  and  brilliant,  with 
wavy  plumes  of  spun  glass,  whilst  birds,  ships,  goblets,  and 
decanters  on  their  poles  glistened  in  the  beams  of  the  hot  sun. 
A  printing-press  distributed  appropriate  verses,  worked  off  in  the 
course  of  the  procession.  And  St.  Crispin's  followers  waxed  their 
threads  and  plied  their  awls  on  boots  and  shoes  as  they  and 
their  benches  were  borne  along,  followed  by  their  leather-aproned 
fraternity,  holding  aloft  their  productions,  from  the  most  gigantic 
of  Wellingtons  to  the  tiniest  infant's  slipper. 

All  branches  of  the  cotton  trade  were  represented.  There  was 
cotton  in  bags  ;  twist  in  bales ;  carding,  roving,  spinning,  weaving, 
all  going  on  under  the  eyes  of  the  onlookers,  with  the  workpeople 
following  in  their  best  and  brightest. 

Shouts  and  hurrahs  attended  the  whole  line  of  march,  not 
wholly  unaccompanied  by  hisses ;  but  as  the  small-ware  weavers 
passed  Mr.  Ashton's  the  cheers  were  deafening.  A  loom  was  at 
work  weaving  lengths  of  binding  for  garters,  on  which  was 
inwoven  "God  save  King  George  IV.,"  with  the  date,  and  these 
were  lifted  on  long  wands  to  the  ladies  at  the  windows  on  their 
way,  or  scattered  to  others  in  the  street ;  and  as  Tom  Hulme 
caught  the  eye  of  Jabez,  he  pointed  proudly  to  their  banner, 
which  had  no  rival  in  all  the  elaborately  painted  flags  waving  in 
the  wind,  and  the  impromptu  artist  was  well  satisfied.  But  the 


298  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

brightest  day  has  its  cloud.  As  the  Manchester  Yeomanry  went 
prancing  past,  Travis  and  Walmsley  alike  saluted  the  ladies  at 
the  drawing-room  window,  but  to  the  pain  of  Jabez  and  the 
indignation  of  Mrs.  Ashton,  Lieutenant  Aspinall  had  the  audacity 
to  kiss  his  hand  to  Augusta. 


CHAPTER    THE    THIRTY-SECOND. 


EVENING  :  INDOORS  AND  OUT  ! 


HE  two-miles-and-a-half-long  pro- 
cession was  not  the  only  popular 
demonstration  which  made  the 
Coronation  of  George  IV. 
memorable  in  the  annals  of 
Manchester.  There  were  no 
telegraph  wires  to  flash  intelli- 
gence to  the  supporters  of 
Queen  Caroline  that  she  had 
been  repulsed  from  the  Abbey 
gates,  and  driven  thence  to  die 
broken-hearted  and  uncrowned. 
So,  in  the  absence  of  a  cause 
for  indignation,  loyalty,  or  its 
substitute,  contrived  to  add  a  pendant  of  disorder  and  excess 
only  to  be  recorded  as  the  dung-heap  out  of  which  grew  flowers 
of  promise. 

As  in  most  of  the  private  houses  along  the  line  of  route,  a 
cold  collation  had  been  prepared  for  the  refreshment  of  the 
friends  who  crowded  Mr.  Ashton's  open  windows.  But  no 
calculation  had  been  made  of  the  space  the  unwonted  pageant 
would  cover,  or  the  time  it  would  occupy  in  passing  ;  and  Mrs. 
Ashton,  having  discovered  that  sight-seeing  in  the  dust  and  glare 


AUGUSTA  AT  HER  HARP. 


300  THB   MANCHESTER    MAN. 

of  July  was  parching  and  fatiguing,  issued  orders  for  tea  to  be 
handed  round  when  the  last  banner  had  disappeared,  and  before 
her  less  intimate  friends  should  rise  to  depart. 

In  giving  these  orders,  she  unwittingly  stirred  the  kitchen  fire 
into  a  white  heat.  Lavish  hospitality  was  a  characteristic  of  the 
time,  and  when  a  family  of  good  position  professed  to  keep 
"open  house,"  it  was  generally  equal  to  the  most  extravagant 
demands.  As  a  rule,  Mrs.  Ashton  had  little  leaning  towards 
impromptu  parties,  and  Kezia  considerably  less,  preferring  those 
grand  and  formal  receptions  which  involved  elaborate  preparation, 
and  placed  imaginary  feathers  in  the  caps  of  mistress  and  maids. 

Kezia  herself  considered  the  honour  of  the  house  involved  in 
everything  under  her  control  being  "  in  apple-pie  order ; "  and  the 
surprise  which  put  her  on  her  mettle,  put  her  also  in  a  fume. 

Recalled  from  the  window — whence  her  head  had  been  poked 
far  as  the  farthest — to  provide  tea  and  its  concomitants  for  an 
indefinite  number  of  strangers,  she  accompanied  her  erratic 
movements  about  her  domain  with  explosive  outbursts  of  spleen 
at  "  bein'  takken  unawares  when  nowt's  ready  to  hand." 

"  Here's  missus  bin  an'  ordered  tay  fur  the  whole  boilin'  of 
folk  up-stairs ;  an'  theer's  Cicily  and  t'other  wenches  a'  agog  ower 
th'  crownation,  an'  not  worth  'toss  of  a  pancake ! " 

She  jerked  out  her  anger  in  the  ears  of  Bess  Hulme,  who, 
seated  on  the  settle,  had  just  lulled  to  sleep  Mrs.  Walmsley's 
crying  baby,  which  (neglected  by  its  gaping  nurse)  had 
commemorated  the  day  by  a  fall  from  a  high  bed. 

Bess  made  a  temporary  couch  for  the  baby  in  a  snug  corner, 
and  quietly  came  to  Kezia's  assistance;  then  Ellen  Chad  wick, 
intuitively  perceptive  of  kitchen  troubles,  busied  herself  in  bringing 
reserves  of  china,  glass,  plate,  linen,  and  sweetmeats  from  closets 
and  store-room  ;  Cicily  and  Dolly  came  down  in  due  time  ;  and 
the  credit  of  the  establishment  lost  nothing  in  Kezia's  hands, 


HENRY    LIVERSEEGE. 
From   an   Engraving. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  301 

even  though    there    was   an    additional   influx   of  visitors,    and    a 
supper  also  to  provide. 

That  was  Mr.  Ashton's  affair.  He  had  tired  of  his  processional 
march  in  the  broiling  sun  by  the  time  they  had  skirted  Ardwick, 
and  defiled  into  Chancery  Lane.  The  two  friends  by  his  side, 
Mr.  John  McConnell  and  Mr.  John  Green  (both  cotton-spinners 
with  whom  he  dealt),  being  of  the  same  mind,  they  had  fallen 
out  of  the  line  in  Ancoats  Lane,  and  turned  down  Canal  Street 
to  the  house  of  the  latter,  to  refresh  themselves  with  something 
less  dry  than  snuff  or  road-dust. 

Mr.  Green  was  the  uncle  of  Henry  Liverseege  the  artist,  fragile 
of  form  and  spiritual  of  face,  but  the  latter  was  then  only  a 
genius  in  his  nineteenth  year — with  fame  and  an  early  grave 
dimly  foreshadowed.  They  found  him  on  the  doorstep,  with  his 
fusssy  and  fidgety,  though  kind-hearted  aunt,  just  back  from 
Mr.  Gore's  in  Piccadilly,  whence  they  had  seen  the  show.  The 
gentlemen's  requirement,  a  "draught  of  ale,"  was  soon  supplied, 
accompanied  by  a  spasmodic  comment  on  the  "gand  display," 
and  the  exhibition  of  a  pair  of  the  loyally  inscribed  fillets  she 
had  secured  as  the  smallware-weavers  passed. 

"By-the-bye,  that  was  a  wonderfully  effective  banner  of  yours, 
Mr.  Ashton,"  interposed  the  thin  voice  of  Liverseege.  "Who 
painted  it?" 

A  young  fellow  in  my  employ,  who  occasionally  designs 
for  us,"  answered  Mr.  Ashton,  handing  his  snuff-box  to  the  group 
in  rotation — "  quite  a  self-taught  artist ! " 

"  Indeed !  It  was  not  much  like  an  amateur's  brush.  I  should 
like  to  know  him.  You  see  I  do  something  in  that  way  myself." 
The  young  painter,  conscious  of  his  own  latent  power,  was 
sensitively  alive  to  undeveloped  art  in  another. 

"  Would  you  ?  Just  so !  Then  you  shall.  Come  along,  all  of 
you,  and  finish  the  day  with  us.  Mrs.  Ashton  will  find  us  a 


302  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

dish  of  tea,  and  I  am  sure,  Mrs.  Green,  she  will  be  proud  to 
see  you  also."  Turning  to  the  gentlemen,  who  had  by  this  time 
emptied  their  talboy  glasses,  he  added,  "And  I  think  I  have  a 
few  bottles  of  rare  old  port  waiting  among  the  cobwebs  for  us 
to  drink  the  King's  health." 

It  was  a  period  of  much  pressing  and  many  excuses,  but  the 
excitement  of  the  day  had  so  far  destroyed  ceremony  that  even 
Mrs.  Green,  who  was  somewhat  punctillious,  after  a  little  nervous 
trepidation  anent  the  fitness  of  her  last  new  cap  for  company, 
consented,  and  accepted  the  arm  Mr.  Ashton  gallantly  offered  to 
pilot  her  across  the  crowded  street,  along  which  the  tail  of  the 
procession  had  only  just  trailed. 

Graciously,  though  with  her  natural  stateliness,  Mrs.  Ashton 
received  the  new  comers ;  Mrs.  Green,  finding  the  company 
generally  in  morning  visiting  dress,  was  at  ease  about  her  cap  ; 
the  tea  was  exhilarating,  the  viands  toothsome,  the  wines 
excellent ;  there  was  one  common  topic  for  discussion ;  the  ice 
of  ceremony  had  thawed  hours  before;  and  genial  Mr.  Ashton, 
having  locked  the  doors  to  prevent  the  escape  of  a  guest  before 
the  supper  he  had  bespoken  was  demolished,  was  thoroughly  in 
his  element. 

Mrs.  Ashton  was  not  quite  so  much  at  ease,  though  she  was 
too  well-bred  to  manifest  her  disquiet,  which  had  two  sources. 
In  the  first  place,  the  presumptious  salutation  of  Augusta  by 
Lieutenant  Aspinall  had  jarred  a  sensitive  nerve.  In  the  second, 
Mr.  Ashton,  generously  impulsive,  had  introduced  Mr.  Clegg  to 
their  friends,  and  as  a  friend  of  whom  he  was  himself  proud.  She 
thoroughly  appreciated  Jabez,  and  equally  contemplated  his 
advancement ;  but  she  was  for  "  making  no  more  haste  than  good 
speed,"  and  considered  it  more  prudent  to  raise  him  by  insensible 
degrees.  And  as  she  watched  her  husband,  radiant  with  goodwill, 
cross  the  room  with  Jabez  (discomposed  at  the  very  doorway  by 


THB    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


3°3 


the  wondering  eyes  of  Augusta),  and  present  him  to  Mr.  Green 
and  Mr.  Liverseege,  thus  ran  her  thoughts : — 

"  Dear  me !  William  is  very  inconsiderate !  He  will  turn  the 
young  man's  head,  and  insult  our  visitors  at  the  same  time.  I 
hope  Mrs.  Clough  will  not  recognise  him.  How  indignant  she 
would  be  if  she  thought  we  expected  her  to  associate  with  one 
who  once  wore  her  son's  cast-off  clothes !  Certainly  he  is  well- 
conducted,  and  worthy  in  all  respects,  but — people  don't  forget  such 
things  !  If  Mr.  Green  and  Mr.  McConnell  only  knew  William  was 
introducing  our  Blue-coat  apprentice,  what  would  they  say  ? — I  am 
glad,  however,  to  see  young  Mr.  Liverseege  so  affable  with  Jabez." 

To  her  surprise,  at  this  juncture  Mr.  McConnell  drew  his  chair 
close  to  Jabez  and  Mr.  Liverseege,  and,  attributing  the  evident 
embarassment  of  the  former  to  the  newness  of  his  position, 
endeavoured  to  dissipate  it  by  taking  part  in  the  conversation, 
to  which  quiet  Mr.  Green  occasionally  added  a  word.  The  lady, 
who  was  so  afraid  of  touching  the  dignity  of  her  friends,  had 
not  heard  her  less  exclusive  lord  whisper  to  the  two  cotton- 
spinners,  "  I'm  afraid  I've  committed  a  grave  misdemeanour  in 
Mrs.  Ashton's  sight  by  bringing  young  Clegg  among  our  party ; 
but  kings  are  net  crowned  every  day,  and  I  thought  it  a  good 
opportunity  to  bring  a  worthy  lad  out.  You  and  I" — and  he 
tapped  his  snuff-box — "know  what  Manchester  men  are  made  of, 
and  that  young  fellow  has  good  stuff  in  him  !  He  was  made 
to  rise,  sirs." 

Mr.  Ashton's  friends  nodded  in  acquiescence,  and  willing  to 
humour  their  kindly  host,  and  perhaps  desirous  to  test  the  calibre 
of  an  aspirant  so  introduced,  wittingly  or  unwittingly  did  their 
part  in  helping  him  to  "  rise "  by  the  very  distinction  of  their 
prolonged  attention.  It  was  an  act  quite  in  the  way  of  John 
McConnell,  who  had  already  given  a  lift  to  his  rising  young 
countryman,  Fairbairn,  the  engineer. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

Presently  Mr.  Chadwick,  beckoning  attentive  Ellen  to  his  side, 
and  using  her  shoulder  as  a  support,  involuntarily  seconded  his 
brother-in-law  by  joining  the  group,  and,  putting  out  his  hand 
to  Jabez  (who  rose  at  his  approach,  and  offered  his  own  seat  to 
the  paralytic  gentleman),  said  : — 

"Wha-at  inter-rests  yo-you  so  m-much,  M-Mr.  Clegg,  th-that 
you  f-forget  old  f-friends  ? " 

"  No,  sir,  I  had  not  forgotten  you,  nor  Miss  Chadwick  either " 
(Ellen  coloured),  "but  Mr.  Ashton  having  honoured  me  with  an 
introduction  to  Mr.  Liverseege  and  these  gentlemen"  (bowing  to 
them),  "I  was  not  at  liberty  to  break  away,  had  I  felt  so 
disposed." 

"We  were  discussing  the  influence  of  art  on  our  local 
manufactures,"  added  Henry  Liverseege,  and  thereupon  the  subject 
was  resumed,  Ellen,  necessarily  in  close  attendance  on  her  father, 
standing  there  with  sparkling  black  eyes,  an  animated  and 
attentive  listener,  well  pleased  that  Mr.  Clegg's  merits  (as  seen 
by  her)  had  at  length  found  recognition. 

Meanwhile  Augusta,  the  centre  of  a  group  of  young  people, 
indulged  in  sentimental  chit-chat,  and,  trifling  with  her  fan  and 
human  hearts,  completed  the  enslavement  of  her  last  admirer,  a 
fair-haired  Mr.  Marsland ;  while  Jabez,  from  his  distant  seat, 
looked  and  longed  in  vain. 

Cards  were,  as  a  matter  of  course,  proposed  for  the  amusement 
of  this  extemporised  party,  and  in  filling  up  tables  for  whist  or 
loo,  Mrs.  Ashton's  fears  for  the  sensibility  of  her  friends  were 
forgotten.  They  were  utterly  put  to  the  rout  by  a  loud 
rat-tat-tat  at  the  street  door,  followed  by  the  entrance  of  Mr. 
Clough  and  the  Reverend  Joshua  Brookes,  the  latter  less  vigorous 
than  of  yore,  but  in  a  state  of  unusual  excitement.  His  loud 
voice  was  heard  before  he  was  seen.  "  Hogs,  sir,  hogs !  They 
are  no  better  than  hogs,  sir!"  he  was  saying  even  as  he  came 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  305 

into  the  drawing-room.  He  appeared  too  much  ruffled  to 
respond  composedly  to  the  kindly  greetings  of  his  many  friends ; 
even  Augusta,  who  put  forth  her  little  white  hand  with  her 
most  winning  smile,  attracted  no  more  attention  than  a  hurried 
"How  d'ye  do,  lass?  How  d'ye  do?" 

"  What  is  the   matter,  Mr.    Brookes  ?       You   seem " 

He  interrupted  Mr.  Ashton's  inquiry  with — 

"  Matter,  sir  ?  Waste  and  riot,  intemperance  and  indecency, 
are  the  matter.  These  old  eyes  have  seen  that  which  is  enough 
to  bring  a  curse  upon  the  coronation  and  a  blight  upon  the 
town." 

Conversation  was  arrested,  flirtation  forgot  its  part,  cards  were 
laid  down,  save  by  three  or  four  inveterate  players,  and  young 
and  old  were  alike  on  the  qui  mve,  crowding  round  the  speaker. 

"  Permit  me,"  said  Mr.  Clough,  commencing  an  explanation. 
"  I  suppose  you  are  all  aware  that  the  new  market  in  Shude  Hill 
is  the  chief  station  of  the  nine  appointed  for  the  distribution  of 
meat,  bread,  and  ale  to  the  populace  ? " 

"  Populace,  indeed ! — the  very  scum  and  dregs  of  the  town — 
say  rather  the  lowest,  roughest  rabble ! "  broke  in  old  Joshua. 

"Well,  Parson,  for  the  credit  of  our  working  population,  let  us 
hope  so,"  chimed  in  Mr.  Clough,  resuming — "Whilst  Mr.  Brookes 
and  I  were  at  tea  in  his  sanctum,  Tabitha  ran  in  breathless  to 
tell  us  that  the  platform  erected  for  recipients  in  front  of  the 
storehouse  had  given  way,  that  several  persons  were  injured,  and 
one  had  been  killed  on  the  spot." 

"  Ah ! "  said  the  Parson,  drawing  a  long  breath  between  his 
teeth,  while  Jabez,  unobserved  by  either,  drew  nearer  to  listen,  and 
the  ladies  put  up  their  hands  in  horror. 

"  It  was  not  our  most  direct  route,  but  either  curiosity  or 
compassion  took  us  round  by  Shude  Hill  Market  on  our  road 
hither,  and  never  shall  I  forget  the  scene  we  witnessed.  Loaves 


306  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

and  junks  of  meat  were  being  pitched  high  and  far  amongst  the 
crowd  from  the  warehouse  doors  and  windows,  as  if  flung  to 
hounds." 

"  Hounds,  sir ! "  burst  in  impatient  Joshua,  "  don't  slander  the 
better  animal.  Only  the  commonest  curs  would  have  yelped,  and 
scrambled,  and  struggled,  and  fought  for  their  rations,  as  did  the 
human  beasts  we  saw  clutching  and  gripping  from  weaker  women 
and  children  that  which  had  fallen  within  their  reach,  or  trampling 
in  the  mud  underfoot  the  food  they  were  too  greedy  or  too  drunk 
to  devour.  Ay,  mud,  for  the  very  kennels  ran  with  ale  thrown  in 
pitchers-full  amongst  the  people,  to  be  caught  in  hats,  and  bonnets, 
and  hollowed  hands,  as  if  it  were  rain  in  an  African  desert.  Ale  ! 
the  atmosphere  reeked  of  ale !  Men,  women,  and  children  of  all 
ages  carried  it  away,  or  drank  it  from  all  sorts  of  vessels  ;  reeled, 
hiccoughed,  and  staggered  under  their  burden,  or  sank  down  by 
the  wayside ;  whilst  others,  shouting  like  maniacs,  drained  the 
half-empty  mugs.  I  tell  you,  sirs,  Captain  Cook  never  fell  in  with 
greater  savages.  Even  death  and  disaster  in  their  midst  had  not 
awed  them  !  Ugh !  I  say  again  they  are  hogs,  absolute  hogs ! " 

As  Joshua  paused  to  take  breath,  and  sank  into  a  chair,  Jabez 
modestly  put  the  question  to  the  excitable  chaplain — 

"Do  you  not  think  the  distributors  are  most  to  blame  for  this 
wanton  waste  and  excess,  to  say  nothing  of  the  loss  of  life  ? 
Surely  the  arrangements  of  the  committee  must  have  been 
defective." 

The  Parson's  harsh  tones  softened  as  he  put  out  his  hand  to 
grasp  the  speaker's. 

"Ay,  Jabez,  lad,  is  that  thee?  I'm  glad  to  see  thee  here" — 
and  he  laid  emphasis  on  the  word — "Ay,  the  distributors  are 
answerable  for " 

But  the  personal  recognition  had  created  a  diversion.  The 
question  Jabez  had  mooted  was  talked  over  by  separate  knots 


TKB    MANCHESTER    MAN.  307 

of  individuals  in  different  quarters  of  the  large  room,  whilst 
Mr.  Clough,  to  Mrs.  Ashton's  amazement — yes,  and  gratification 
also — shook  the  salesman  warmly  by  the  hand,  and  congratulated 
him  on  his  apparent  success.  Moreover,  he  bore  him  away  to 
Mrs.  Clough,  at  the  loo-table,  and  called  her  attention  to  the 
change  time  had  effected  in  the  old  tanner's  foster-child,  in  the 
most  cordial  manner. 

Thanks  to  Mr.  Ashton,  Mr.  Clegg  had  truly  got  his  first  foot 
into  Manchester  society  that  coronation-day,  and  his  old  hopes 
might  have  revived,  had  not  a  disturbing  element  crept  into  the 
room  during  the  denunciatory  oration  of  his  clerical  friend. 

John  Walmsley,  not  finding  his  wife  at  home  when  released 
from  yeomanry  duty,  had  come  in  quest  of  her,  bringing  two  of 
his  comrades ;  and  when  Mr.  Clegg  retired  from  the  loo-table 
with  a  bow,  his  eye  fell  first  on  the  conspicuous  figure  of 
Captain  Travis,  in  the  silver-and-blue  glory  of  uniform,  bending 
deferentially  to  address  Miss  Chadwick ;  and  in  another  moment 
on  the  elegant  Adonis  he  had  dragged  from  icy  death,  toying 
with  Miss  Augusta's  carved  ivory  fan,  and  whispering  low  to  her, 
whilst  she  hid  her  Indian-muslin  robe  and  too  eloquent  face 
behind  the  screen  of  her  convenient  harp,  and  drew  her  flexible 
fingers  lightly  across  the  chords. 

The  lustre  of  that  evening's  introduction  was  dimmed  for  Jabez. 
Augusta  scarcely  looked  at  him  as  she  brushed  past  to  supper, 
leaning  on  the  arm  of  Lieutenant  Aspinall,  her  white  dress  in 
strong  contrast  to  his  dark  uniform  ;  and  no  doubt  his  pain  was 
pictured  on  his  face,  for  Ellen  Chadwick  sighed,  as  she  too  passed 
him  with  her  martial  cavalier,  and  half  turned  to  look  pitifully 
as  she  went. 

There  was  no  lack  of  ladies,  so  Mrs.  Ashton  paired  Mr.  Clegg 
off  with  a  chatty  damsel  of  thirty  or  thereabouts,  and  he  did  his 
best  to  listen  and  make  himself  agreeable,  but  not  even  the  novelty 


308  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

of  his  situation  could  keep  his  thoughts  or  his  eyes  from  wandering 
where  they  should  not. 

Along  the  whole  course  of  the  procession  the  Manchester 
Yeomanry  had  been  greeted  with  more  hisses  and  groans  than 
cheers.  This  had  chafed  their  noble  spirits,  and  on  disbanding 
they  had  sought  consolation  in  the  wine-cup,  which  temperate 
Jabez  was  not  slow  to  observe,  although  their  degree  oi 
exhilaration  was  not  then  considered  a  disqualification  for  the 
drawing-room  or  for  the  society  of  ladies. 

Mr.  Ashton's  strong  home-brewed  supper-ale  was  not  a  sedative, 
yet  still  Augusta  smiled  on  Laurence,  in  spite  of  her  mother's 
frowns,  driving  Mr.  Marsland  to  desperation,  and  Jabez  to  despair. 

Indeed,  he  was  glad  when  the  repast  was  over,  for  then 
Joshua  Brookes  rose  to  depart,  sober  as  when  he  sat  down,  and 
the  Chadwicks  also.  He  had  thus  an  opportunity  of  escaping 
from  his  torment,  by  offering  his  escort  to  tottering  Mr.  Chadwick 
and  the  Parson  in  succession,  if  the  latter  did  not  object  to  the 
slight  detour.  Jabez  foresaw  that  Mr.  Travis  was  ready  to  do 
Miss  Chadwick  suit  and  service ;  but  in  offering  his  arm  to  assist 
the  slow  feet  of  the  disabled  father,  he  little  dreamed  how  gladly 
the  daughter  would  have  made  an  exchange ;  nor,  had  he  been 
wiser,  would  he  have  thrust  himself  in  big  Ben's  way,  any  more 
than  would  Mrs.  Chadwick,  who  openly  favoured  the  "personable 
and  unimpeachable"  captain. 


CHAPTER    THE    THIRTY-THIRD. 


CLOGS. 


EAVING  the  Chadwicks  at 
their  own  door,  where 
Captain  Travis  would  fain 
have  lingered  had  he  been 
encouraged,  Jabez  and  he 
fell  back  as  guards  to 
their  reverend  friend,  whose 
excitability  might  other- 
wise have  involved  him 
in  some  unpleasantness, 
so  disorderly  a  riff-raff 
occupied  the  streets. 

Turning  down  Church 
Street,  they  pursued  their 
dimly-lighted  way  along 
Cannon  Street  (so  named  from  dismounted  cannon  said  to  be 
captured  from  "  rebels "  which  served  as  corner  posts),  through 
Hanging  Ditch  to  Hyde's  Cross,  thence  past  the  deserted  Apple 
Market  and  Dr.  Smith's  ancient  labyrinth  of  a  house,  to  the 
Parson's  less  antiquated  domicile  in  the  corner  by  the  Grammar 
School  and  those  College  gates  which  had  been  the  portals  of 
peace  and  promise  to  Jabez,  and  not  only  to  him,  but  to 
hundreds  besides. 


[AR-SCHOOL  MASTER. 


3io 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


The  excitement  of  old  Joshua  had  been  toned  down  amongst 
the  wax-lights  and  pleasant  faces  around  the  Ashton's  well-spread 
supper  table,  and  at  first  he  was  disposed  to  be  conversable, 
after  his  own  peculiar  manner.  They  had  purposely  avoided 
Shudehill  Market  by  an  ample  circuit ;  but  stragglers  of  both 
sexes  from  the  scene  of  riot  lay  maundering  or  asleep  in  their 
path,  or  crossed  it  at  every  turn,  in  all  stages  of  inebriation  and 
disorder,  until  the  natural  irritability  of  the  chaplain  (increased 
by  failing  health)  broke  forth  in  loud-voiced  indignation,  ending 
in  a  wail  that  he  was  "getting  old  and  powerless,"  or  he  would 
"rise  like  another  John  Knox  and  denounce  the  wickedness 
rampant  in  the  land." 

"A  good  man  lives  there,  Jabez,"  said  he,  pointing  to  the 
black-and-white  home  of  the  head-master-,  where  lighted  windows 
told  of  hospitality  awake,  "a  good  man,  but  for  whom  I  should 
not  be  alive  to  tell  you ;  but  there  are  those  in  the  pulpit,  my 
lads,  whom  the  Church  ought  to  spew  out,  lest  they  poison  the 
flocks  it  is  their  duty  to  feed.  Can  the  stream  be  pure  if  the 
fountain  be  polluted  ?  And  how  shall  we  rebuke  the  gross 
excesses  of  the  untaught  rabble  whilst  chambering,  gluttony,  and 
drunkenness  defile  the  high  places  of  the  land  ?  Ugh  !  There 
wants  another  flood  to  wash  Europe  sweet  and  clean.  The  sin 
on  the  earth  was  not  greater  in  the  days  of  Noah  !" 

They  were  crossing  the  space  before  the  two  closed  gates 
when  he  paused  for  lack  of  breath,  and  Travis,  with  no  thought 
but  to  change  the  subject,  observed  to  Jabez,  over  the  head  of 
the  panting  Pastor 

"  How  quiet  this  little  nook  of  ground  is  now !  Yet  to  me,  and 
no  doubt  to  you,  Mr.  Clegg,  it  is  haunted  by  ghosts  of  old  times!" 

That  set  Joshua   off  again. 

"  Ugh !  to  hear  a  lad  of  five-and-twenty  talk  of  old  times ! 
What's  the  world  coming  to?  Ghosts,  indeed!  It  had  like  to 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  311 

have  been  haunted  by  ghosts  of  something  more  than  old  times, 
as  Jabez  and  I  know  to  our  cost.  I've  never  been  right  since 
the  young  ruffians  had  me  in  their  clutches !  And  mark  you, 
my  lads,  and  think  of  it  when  you  have  young  ones  of  your 
own  to  rear :  there's  no  worse  sign  for  a  country  or  a  family 
than  when  the  young  jibe  and  jeer,  mock  and  scorn  their 
elders.  When  grey  hairs  fail  to  command  respect,  virtue, 
principle,  and  religion  are  at  their  lowest  ebb." 

He  stood  within  his  own  gate  as  he  said  this,  and  as 
Tabitha  opened  the  door  for  her  master,  he  checked  all  reply 
with 

"  There !  you've  had  a  sermon  for  nothing.  Ugh  !  you'll  forget 
it  when  the  old  man's  back  turns.  Good  night,  lads !  See 
you  steer  clear  of  brawls,  and  give  drunken  fools  a  wide  berth." 

Leaving  the  young  men  so  abruptly  dimissed  to  retrace  their 
steps  towards  Hyde's  Cross,  it  may  be  as  well  if  we  throw  a 
light  on  some  of  Parson  Brookes's  dark  allusions.  Time  had 
not  smoothed  the  old  man's  eccentricities,  nor  modified  the 
antagonism  between  the  Grammar  School  boys  and  the  ex-master. 
They  were  always  at  war,  and  there  never  was  wanting  a  cams 
belli.  The  previous  September  he  had  been  more  than  usually 
irritated  by  a  lampoon  which  began 

"  O   Jotty,    you   dog, 

Your  house   we   well  know 
Is   headquarters  of  prog " 

the  purport  of  which  was  to  fix  on  him  the  stigma  of  inviting 
a  friend  to  dine,  and  regaling  him  with  a  black-pudding  only. 

Lashed  to  fury,  he  burst  into  the  Grammar  School  when  the 
first  and  second-form  boys  were  assembled  in  the  afternoon  to 
rehearse  the  speeches  which,  according  to  custom,  they  were  to 
deliver  in  public  at  the  annual  commemoration  in  October.  He 
braved  them  in  his  hottest  style,  winding  up  with,  "You  are  a 


312  THE  MANCHESTER   MAN. 

set  of  blockheads !      I   would   not   come    to   hear  your  speeches  if 
you  would  pay  me  for  it!" 

There  was  a  general  cry,  "  Turn  him  out !  Turn  him  out ! " 
But  Jotty  would  not  be  turned  out.  He  stuck  himself  in  the 
doorway  with  his  legs  against  the  door-post,  and  his  back  against 
the  door  itself,  to  the  extreme  risk  of  broken  limbs,  whilst  his 
young  and  vigorous  opponents  brought  their  strength  to  bear 
upon  the  door  to  force  him  out. 

With  such  odds  he  was  sure  to  be  overcome ;  but,  driven  into 
the  yard,  he  fought  with  his  antagonists  like  a  mastiff  at  bay, 
and  they,  like  the  cowards  they  must  have  been,  to  have  assailed 
in  a  body  an  old  man  (under  any  provocation),  by  sheer  force  of 
numbers,  bore  him  backwards  to  the  wall,  and,  but  for  the 
opportune  arrival  of  Dr.  Smith,  would  have  repeated  the  outrage 
perpetrated  on  Jabez  Clegg  eight  years  before. 

He  might  well  say  Dr.  Smith  had  saved  his  life.  Such  a  fall, 
whether  in  high  or  low  water,  to  so  old  a  man,  would  have 
been  certain  destruction.  They  broke  his  heart,  I  think,  if  they 
did  not  break  his  limbs,  for  he  never  was  the  same  man  afterwards. 
Even  old  Mrs.  Clowes  used  to  rally  him  on  his  frequent  "fits 
of  the  dumps." 

Whether  Jabez  and  Ben  Travis  had,  or  had  not,  lost  sight  of 
the  Parson's  homily,  they  were  linked  arm  in  arm,  the  rich 
yeomanry  officer  and  the  unpretending  smallware-salesman,  just 
as,  nearly  nine  years  previously,  the  big,  raw-boned  youth,  with 
a  heart  large  enough  to  match  his  frame,  had  linked  his  arm  in 
that  of  the  poor  Blue-coat  boy,  as  a  friend  and  protector,  when 
as  yet  his  admittance  into  society  was  undreamed  of. 

Where  the  four  roads  met  at  Hyde's  Cross,  a  staggering  Charlie 
(as  the  watchmen  were  called,  much  as,  at  this  day,  they  are 
Bobbies)  passed  them,  with  his  horn  lantern  and  staff,  and  his 
rattle  in  his  belt,  proclaiming — 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 


313 


"Past  ten  o'clock!"  (hiccup).  "And  a  foin  moonleet 
neet ! " 

The  two  stood  for  a  moment ;  then,  animated  by  a  desire  to 
ascertain  if  Joshua  Brookes  had  spoken  sooth,  or,  in  his  spleen 
exaggerated,  they  turned  up  Shudehill,  all  alive  with  people  who 
were  ordinarily  at  that  hour  in  bed,  and  made  their  way  to 
the  market. 

Exaggerate !  Joshua  Brookes  had  seen  but  in  part,  and  painted 
but  in  part.  Every  avenue  to  the  market  was  a  scene  of 
debauchery.  Hogarth's  print  of  "  Gin  Lane "  was  feeble  beside 
it.  The  distribution  of  food  was  over,  but  that  of  drink 
continued.  The  oil  lamps  of  the  street,  the  dying  illumination 
lamps,  and  the  misty  moonlight  showed  a  picture  of  unimaginable 
grossness ;  whilst  their  ears  were  assailed  with  foulness  which 
would  have  shocked  a  hardened  man  of  the  world — how  much 
more  these  inexperienced  young  friends ! 

Children,  men,  and  women,  their  clothes  torn  or  disarrayed,  lay 
singly,  or  in  groups,  on  the  paths,  or  in  the  gutters,  asleep  or 
awake,  drunk,  sick,  helpless,  exposed ;  there  was  fighting  and 
cursing  over  the  ale  yet  procurable  ;  there  were  loaves  in  the 
gutters,  and  meat  trampled  in  the  mire ;  food  which,  properly 
distributed,  would  have  gladdened  many  a  poor,  hard-working 
family,  too  self-respecting  to  join  that  clamorous  mob. 

The  two  young  men   turned   away   sick   and   disgusted. 

"  Henry  Hunt,  in  advocating  the  disuse  of  excisable  liquors," 
said  Jabez,  thoughtfully,  "  may  only  have  designed  to  cripple  the 
Government ;  but  surely  no  one  could  witness  scenes  like  these, 
whether  Whig  or  Tory,  without  feeling  that  some  restriction  on 
drink  is  absolutely  necessary  for  the  safety  of  the  State  and 
.the  comfort  of  the  people." 

"  You  are  right,  Mr.  Clegg,"  responded  Travis,  heartily.  "  Men 
of  all  politics  ought  to  meet  on  this  ground.  I  shall  see  how 


314  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

far  my  little  influence  goes  to  check  intemperance  henceforth. 
Something  must  be  done,  and  that  promptly." 

"Whatever  I  can  do  to  second  you,  you  may  depend  on, 
though  beyond  our  own  warehouse  my  opportunities  are  small," 
said  Jabez ;  "  still,  if  I  can  influence  one  within  our  walls,  that 
one  may  act  on  two  outside,  and  so  we  may  prevail  in  the 
end." 

''Yes,"  added  Travis,  "and  if  this  night  be  not  eloquent  in  its 
protest  against  drink,  all  humanity  must  be  equally  debased  and 
brutalised." 

Some  caution  had  been  necessary  to  cross  the  Market,  so  as 
to  avoid  insult,  the  captain's  bulk  and  uniform  rendering  him 
conspicuous,  and  his  corps  being  in  anything  but  good  odour. 
They  had  kept  well  within  the  shade  of  the  pillared  piazza 
which  extended  along  the  side  to  their  right,  and,  stunned  by 
the  uproar  of  brawling  and  fighting  crowds,  picked  their  way 
between  degraded  humanity  in  heaps  on  the  pavement,  crushed 
hats  and  bonnets,  torn  caps  and  shawls,  boots  and  shoes  which 
had  done  duty  as  drinking  vessels,  sodden  meat  and  bread,  and 
had  much  ado  to  avoid  splashing  through  puddles  of  ale  and 
other  abominations.  They  had  emerged  into  Oak  Street,  glad 
to  have  got  tolerably  clear  of  the  clamour  and  brutality,  when 
a  cry  from  the  direction  of  Tib  Street,  "  Watch  !  Help  !  Watch  !  " 
fell  on  their  ears  in  tones  which  had  a  strangely  familiar  ring 
to  Jabez. 

Hastening  on  at  a  run,  they  came  upon  a  decently-dressed 
man  struggling  against  three  or  four  drunken  ruffians  with  heavy 
clogs  on  their  feet.  They  had  got  the  man  down,  and  were 
vociferating  with  oaths  not  to  be  repeated  here. 

"Gie  him  a  lick  wi'  thi  clog!"  "  Punce  him  well!"  "Shut 
up  his  tater-trap  fur  him ! "  "  Purr  him  i'  th'  bread-basket !  " 
"  Fettle  his  mug  wi'  thi  clog ! " 


MANCHESTER    MAN.  315 

Before  Jabez  and  his  companion  could  prevent  it,  a  heavy 
thud,  followed  by  a  groan,  told  of  a  brutal  kick;  the  two  only 
dashed  among  them  in  time  to  arrest  the  other  clogs,  already  on 
the  backward  swing  for  force  ;  and  saved  the  prostrate  man  by 
turning  the  fury  of  the  savages  on  themselves.  The  cowardly 
brutes,  however,  stood  little  chance  against  sobriety  and  skill, 
backed  by  the  muscular  frame  of  Jabez  and  the  herculean  one  of 
Travis,  even  though  they  carried  weapons  of  offence  on  their 
feet,  and  plied  them  vigorously;  and  before  a  droning  watchman 
hove  in  sight  to  spring  his  rattle  for  assistance,  they  were  over- 
mastered or  put  to  the  rout. 

Most  thankful  was  Jabez  for  the  impulse  which  had  directed 
their  steps  that  way  when,  on  raising  the  fallen  man,  the  light 
of  an  adjacent  oil-lamp  projecting  from  the  wall  fell  on  his 
blood-stained  face,  and  revealed  Tom  Hulme,  who  had  been  drawn 
into  that  unusually  disorderly  neighbourhood  by  like  curiosity 
with  their  own,  and  had  been  set  upon  without  provocation.  He 
walked  with  pain,  and  they  supported  his  steps  to  the  Infirmary, 
not  finding  Mr.  Huertley,  on  whom  they  called,  at  home.  But 
so  fertile  had  that  evening  been  of  serious  injuries,  he  was  some 
time  before  he  could  obtain  attention.  Thirteen  far  more  urgent 
cases  had  preceded  his.  At  length  his  head  and  cut  lip  were 
plaistered  up,  a  reviving  draught  administered,  and  after  some 
examination  of  bruises,  and  poking  and  pressing  of  his  body,  three 
of  his  ribs  were  pronounced  "broken."  His  defenders  were 
disposed  to  smile  at  the  surgeon  when,  besides  an  embrocation 
for  bruises,  he  prescribed  "  a  succession  of  oatmeal  poultices  applied 
internally" — in  other  words,  a  cushion  of  as  much  oatmeal  porridge 
as  the  patient  could  consume,  to  press  the  crushed  ribs  gently 
into  position. 

It  was,  however,  not  much  of  a  laughing  matter  to  Tom  Hulme, 
or  to  loving  Bess,  who  looked  aghast  at  this  deplorable  termination 


316  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

of  a  day's  jollity.  Nor  was  there  a  trace  of  mirth  on  the  face 
of  Jabez  when,  at  parting  with  Ben  Travis  on  the  Mosley  Street 
door-step,  he  gripped,  more  in  pain  that  pleasure,  the  big  hand 
extended  so  cordially. 

It  was  after  midnight,  but  from  the  open  windows  of  the 
still-lighted  drawing-room  the  thin  quick  ears  of  Jabez  had  caught 
the  sound  of  Augusta's  melodious  voice  blending  with  that  of 
Laurence  Aspinall  in  a  popular  duet,  although  the  notes  of  the 
latter  were  neither  so  clear  nor  so  steady  as  they  might  have  been. 
The  pallor  on  her  foster-son's  face  Bess  attributed  to  tender- 
hearted sympathy  for  her  injured  husband;  but  Jabez  hurried 
away  from  her  oppressive  thanks  to  the  solitude  of  his  own 
chamber,  where  he  could  bury  his  face  in  his  quivering  hands, 
and  unseen  wrestle  with  emotions  of  which  she  had  no  conception. 

Never  had  he  known  a  day  so  chequered.  The  same  sun 
which  had  looked  down  at  noontide  on  the  triumph  of  his 
amateur  brush,  had  beamed  on  Augusta  Ashton's  conscious  cheeks, 
as  she  accepted  his  rival's  familiar  act  of  gallantry  without  so 
much  as  a  frown.  The  evening  had  made  a  man  of  him — lifted 
him  into  a  new  sphere — brought  him,  so  to  speak,  nearer  to  his 
divinity,  within  the  radius  of  her  smiles,  the  music  of  her  voice. 
She  had  put  her  small  white  hand  within  his,  and  blessed  him 
with  a  word  or  two  of  shy  recognition  ;  but  Laurence  Aspinall 
had  again  come  like  a  cloud  between  him  and  his  sunbeam ;  her 
sweetest  smiles,  her  softest  tones,  were  for  the  intruder;  her  arm 
had  rested  willingly  on  his,  her  voice  had  blent  with  his  in 
sentimental  song,  and  darkness  once  more  shut  out  hope  from 
Jabez. 

"Common  sense  might  have  taught  me  that  my  love  was 
folly,  presumption,  madness!"  he  argued  with  himself;  that  the 
heiress  of  a  wealthy  man  would  not  stoop  to  her  father's  Blue- 
coat  apprentice.  But  oh ! "  he  groaned,  "  I  had  hoped  to  raise 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  317 

myself  step  by  step  nearer  to  her  level — to  make  myself  worthy 
of  her  as  a  man,  if  I  had  not  riches  to  lay  at  her  feet.  She 
is  young,  and  what  might  I  not  accomplish  with  industry  ere 

she  came  of  age  ?  but  now " 

He  tore  his  neckcloth  off,  and  cast  it  from  him,  stripped  off 
coat  and  vest,  and  flung  them  aside,  as  though  they  held  his 
passionate  folly,  and  he  had  done  with  it,  then  sank  into  a  chair, 
the  very  impersonation  of  listless  hopelessness.  He  had  gone 
through  all  this  struggle  once  before,  and  thought  he  had  overcome 
his  weakness ;  but  at  the  touch  of  the  enchanter's  wand  love 
had  blazed  up  afresh,  and  was  not  to  be  smothered. 

His  reverie  was  broken  into  by  the  tread  of  many  feet  on  the 
staircase  below,  and  the  murmur  of  voices  calling  one  to  another ; 
the  hall-door  shut  with  a  clang,  and  then  a  light  foot  came 
tripping  up  the  stair  alone,  and  from  heart  and  lips  dropped 
unconsciously  the  soft  refrain  of  that  too  well-known  duet.  She, 
too,  was  carrying  to  her  chamber  memories  of  the  night,  and 
bearing  the  burden  lightly. 

He  listened  until  a  door  closed  upon  step  and  song.  Then,  as 
if  its  echoes  pierced  his  soul  he  set  his  teeth  and  clenched  his 
outstretched  hands  in  mute  agony.  There  was  more  than  hopeless 
love  in  this — there  was  jealousy  also.  Then  he  murmured  half 
audibly,  "If  he  were  only  worthy  of  her  I  could  bear  it  better; 
but  to  see  her  cast  her  heart  at  the  feet  of  one  who  will  trample 
on  it,  is  beyond  mortal  endurance." 

He  started  to  his  feet.  A  bright  thought  irradiated  his  face. 
"  Coward  that  I  am !  I  am  quitting  the  battle  without  striking 
a  blow.  I  am  myself  unworthy  of  Augusta  if  I  surrender  her  to 
a  heartless  profligate  without  an  effort  to  save  her.  '  Faint  heart 
never  won  fair  lady.'  Women  have  stooped  lower,  and  lowly  men 
have  looked  higher  ere  now.  I  am  making  way,  but  I  must  make 
money  too,  if  I  would  look  above  me.  Father  and  mother  look 


3*8  THB    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

on  me  with  favour,  and  why  not  the  daughter?  She  may  learn 
the  worthlessness  of  the  fine  gentleman  in  time.  Courage,  Jabez ! 
Work  with  a  will ;  do  your  duty.  Miss  no  opportunity,  and  the 
gold  and  the  goddess  may  both  be  yours  in  the  end,  and 
honestly  won." 

He  sprang  into  bed  fresher  and  lighter  than  he  had  been  all 
day,  the  prayer  of  that  other  Jabez  rising  from  his  heart  with  the 
fervour  of  old  times. 


CHAPTER    THE    THIRTY-FOURTH. 


BIRDS  OF  A  FEATHER. 

HE  "Palace  Inn"  on  the  north 
side  of  Market  Street  Lane 
was  the  last  relic  of  that 
cramped  thoroughfare  to  dis- 
appear at  the  bidding  of 
Improvement.  Possibly,  be- 
cause its  many  eyes  and  bald 
dark-red-brick  face  looked  out 
on  a  space  so  much  beyond 
the  twenty-one  yards  assigned 
by  Act  of  Parliament  to  the 
regenerated  street  that  the 
Improvement  Committee  had 
no  powers  to  meddle  with  it,  for  surely  its  historic  associations 
were  not  sufficient  to  protect  it.  Prince  Charles  Edward  had  been 
hospitably  lodged  and  entertained  beneath  its  roof  by  its  owner, 
Mr.  Dickenson,  long  ere  it  became  an  inn ;  he  had  harangued  his 
devoted  followers  from  the  stone  plateau  of  its  double  flight  of 
steps,  with  his  hand  perchance  on  its  smooth  rail  of  unornamented 
iron ;  but  in  isolated  dignity  rather  than  palatial  pretensions  lay 
its  chief  safeguard.  Be  that  as  it  may,  fourteen  or  fifteen  years 
elapsed  between  the  first  act  of  demolition  for  widening  (at  the 
shop  of  a  Mr.  Maund),  and  that  last  feat  of  narrowing,  which 


PALACE  INN. 


320  THE   MANCHESTER  MAN. 

blocked  up  and  darkened  history  (as  represented  by  the  Palace) 
with  common  stone  warehouses  for  every-day  merchandise.  Alas ! 
Clio  and  all  her  sister  muses  must  succumb  when  Mammon  is  on 
the  march ! 

But  Mammon  had  only  got  his  first  foot  in  the  street  on  that 
Thursday  morning  in  July,  which  blushed  at  the  doings  of  the 
Coronation  night,  and  the  "Palace  Inn"  yet  held  its  head  high  as 
beseemed  its  historic  state.  The  open  space  in  front  was 
enlivened  by  the  newly-painted  London  stage-coach,  the  "Lord 
Nelson,"  the  fresh  scarlet  coats  of  coachmen  and  guards,  the 
assembling  of  passengers  and  luggage,  the  shouting  and  swearing 
of  half-awake  ostlers  and  porters,  the  grumbling  of  the  first- 
comers  (shivering  in  the  raw  air)  at  the  unpunctuality  of  the  stage, 
the  excuses  of  the  booking-clerk,  the  self-gratulations  of  the  last 
arrival  that  he  was  "in  time,"  the  dragging  of  trunks  and 
portmanteaus  on  to  the  top,  the  thrusting  of  bags  and  boxes 
into  the  boot,  the  harnessing  of  snorting  steeds  the  horsing  of 
the  vehicle,  the  scrambling  of  the  "outsiders"  to  the  top  by  the 
ladder  and  wheel,  the  self-satisfied  settlement  of  the  "  insides " 
in  the  places  they  had  "booked  for,"  the  crushing  and  thrusting 
of  friends  with  last  messages  and  parting  words,  the  crack  of  the 
whip,  the  sound  of  the  bugle,  the  prancing  of  horses,  the  rattle 
of  wheels,  and  the  dashing  off  up  Market  Street  Lane  of  the 
gallant  four-in-hand,  amid  the  hurrahs  of  excited  spectators. 

Every  morning  witnessed  a  somewhat  similar  scene  of  bustle 
and  excitement  at  five  o'clock,  when  the  London  coach  started, 
but  every  morning  did  not  see  Jabez  mounted  on  the  box-seat 
with  the  coachman.  Nor  did  every  morning  see  the  coach  an 
hour  behind  time,  or  the  driver's  face  quite  so  red,  or  the 
spectators  so  heavy-eyed,  or  so  much  handing  up  of  horns  and 
glasses  to  the  passengers,  to  be  returned  empty,  or  leave  Mr. 
Ashton  standing  there  when  the  "Lord  Nelson"  had  bowled  away. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  321 

That  Coronation   Day  had   much   to  answer  for. 

When  Tom  Hulme  should  have  risen  at  four  o'clock  to 
return  home,  his  bruised  limbs  were  so  stiff  and  sore  that  the 
soldier,  who  had  borne  the  fatigue  of  many  a  campaign,  who  had 
bivouacked  on  the  battle-field,  after  a  forced  march,  and  being 
ready  with  the  sun  for  the  day's  duties,  had  to  confess  himself 
"  fettled "  by  Lancashire  clogs,  and  unable  to  stir.  There  was  no 
alternative  but  to  acquaint  Mr.  Ashton.  The  mill  could  not  be 
left  without  a  manager. 

After  the  night's  unwonted  dissipation,  Mr.  Ashton  slept 
heavily,  and  was  with  difficulty  aroused.  When  once  he  com- 
prehended the  state  of  affairs,  he  was  on  the  alert. 

"  It's  a  bad  business  ! "  said  he  to  his  wife,  as  he  dressed  in 
haste. 

" '  There  is  nothing  so  bad,  but  it  might  be  worse,' "  was  her 
consolatory  reply.  "  Never  bewail  a  loss  till  you  have  done 
your  best  to  repair  it.  Can  you  not  send  Mr.  Clegg  to  Whaley 
Bridge  for  a  few  days?" 

"  My  dear,  your  counsel  is  invaluable,  but  I  fear  there  is  not 
time  to  catch  the  coach ;  it  is  twenty  minutes  past  four  now." 

"It  is  sure  to  be  late  this  morning^  and  Jabez  will  catch  it 
if  it  is  to  be  caught,"  was  her  quick  rejoinder. 

Bess  had  already  awakened  Jabez,  and  he,  fully  dressed,  met 
Mr.  Ashton  at  his  bedroom  door  with  "  Can  I  be  of  any  service, 
sir?"  A  prompt  commentary  on  Mrs.  Ashton's  declaration. 

A  few  necessaries  hastily  crammed  into  a  carpet  bag ;  a  bowl 
of  milk  and  a  crust  of  bread  as  hastily  swallowed ;  and  Jabez, 
accompanied  by  Mr.  Ashton,  was  on  his  way  to  the  Palace 
coach-office  confident  they  were  in  time,  not  having  heard  the 
guard's  bugle,  or  met  the  coach.  There  was,  however,  barely 
time  to  claim  for  Mr.  Clegg  the  place  already  booked  for  "  Mr. 
Hulme"  (Mrs.  Hulme's  seat  was  forfeited),  and  for  him  to  take 


322  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

his  seat,  before  they  were  off  in  a  canter,  and  Mr.  Ashton's 
business  mind  was  relieved. 

As  the  manufacturer,  satisfied  that  the  mill-hands  at  Whaley 
Bridge  would  not  be  left  altogether  to  their  own  devices,  stood 
within  a  short  distance  of  the  high  steps  looking  after  the 
vanishing  coach,  a  party  of  roysterers  came  swaggering  out  of  the 
inn,  hallooing  with  all  their  tipsy  might.  One  in  advance  of  the 
rest,  observing  an  elderly  gentleman  below,  pointed  him  out  to 
his  companions  as  fair  game,  and  leaning  over  the  rail  to  steady 
himself,  cried  out — 

"  Halloo,  old  fogey  ;  are  you  a  Tory  or  a  Radical  ?  D me, 

take  your  hat  off  before  gentlemen!"  and,  suiting  the  action  to 
the  word,  extended  a  riding-whip  he  carried,  and  jerked  Mr. 
Ashton's  hat  off  into  the  dust;  whereupon  his  worthy  comrades 
set  up  a  loud  guffaw  in  admiration  of  the  feat. 

Naturally  Mr.  Ashton,  his  brief  reverie  disturbed,  stooped  to 
pick  up  the  fallen  beaver,  and  making  due  allowance  for  the 
unwonted  occasion,  turned  to  remonstrate  good-humouredly  with 
an  excited  stranger  who  had  evidently  drunk  the  king's  health 
too  frequently. 

It  was  not  with  more  surprise  than  annoyance  that  he  recognised 
four  of  the  hilarious  party  in  the  doorway  and  on  the  steps  of 
the  inn,  which  had  apparently  been  open  the  night  through.  Not 
one  of  the  four  was  in  a  condition  to  recognise  him,  although 
two  of  them,  John  Walmsley  and  Laurence  Aspinall,  had  supped 
overnight  at  his  own  table,  although  the  third,  Kit  Townley,  had 
good  reason  for  remembrance,  and  Ned  Barret  was  anything  but 
a  stranger. 

Loud  laughter  hailed  the  fall  of  the  hat.  A  second  attempt  to 
"  uncover  the  obstinate  old  fogey "  was  made,  but  dexterously 
avoided  by  Mr.  Ashton,  in  his  absolute  astonishment,  stepping 
backward  beyond  range. 


BIRDS    OF    A    FEATHER. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  323 

"Young  gentlemen,  do  you  know  whom  you  are  insulting?" 

There  was  another  laughing  chorus.  Aspinall  almost  toppled 
over  the  rail  as  he  leaned  forward,  impotently  striking  out  with 
his  whip. 

"  I  protest  the  old  rad's  demnibly  li-ke  the  lovely  Augusta's 
snuffy  old  dad,"  drawled  out  he,  in  a  sort  of  tipsy  wisdom. 

"Just  so!"  appended  Walmsley,  mimicking  the  old  gentleman's 
peculiarity. 

Mr.  Ashton,  though  a  reasonably  temperate  man  himself,  was 
not  so  greatly  shocked  at  these  young  carousers  as  we  might 
be.  Long  usage  blunts  sensibilities.  It  was  a  glorious  distinction 
to  be  a  three-bottle  man ;  the  inability  to  drink  a  solitary  bottle 
of  wine  at  a  sitting  was  a  sort  of  disqualification  for  good 
fellowship ;  and  it  was  considered  a  fine  thing  for  a  boy  of 
seven  to  "  toss  off  a  glass  like  a  man ; "  so  the  genial  old 
gentleman  was  inclined  to  allow  some  latitude  for  the  special 
occasion.  But  they  had  touched  him  on  a  tender  point.  The 
light  mention  of  his  darling  daughter's  name  roused  his  blood. 

"  John  Walmsley,"  he  cried  angrily,  looking  up,  "  what  brings 
you,  a  married  man,  with  these  young  rakes  at  this  hour  of 
the  morning  ? " 

"  Pray   wha-at    brought    y-you    here,    old    fogey  ? "     hiccoughed 
Aspinall,   answering  for  the   other. 

One  of  the  ostlers — Bob,  the  ex-groom — squeezed  between  the 
rollicking  fellows  to  whisper  in  the  ear  of  Laurence.  He  was 
impatiently  thrust  back  with  an  elbow. 

"  Tchut !  don't  believe  it.  Old  snuff-an'-tuppeny's  fast  'shleep 
in  bed  shuresh  a  gun.  I  know  b-better.  I  say,  you " 

But  "  old  snuff-an'-tuppeny "  had  turned  on  his  heel,  too  wise 
to  enter  into  contention  with  a  set  of  inebriated  boobies,  though 
not  proof  against  the  disrespectful  epithets  of  Laurence,  or  the 
derisive  laughter  of  his  boon  companions.  His  irritation  half 


324  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

emptied  his  snuff-box  before  he  got  home,  so  often  he  tapped 
smartly  on  its  golden  lid,  and  so  often  his  ringer  and  thumb 
travelled  between  it  and  his  nose  with  a  touch  of  ruminant 
displeasure. 

Neither  he  nor  Mrs.  Ashton  was  disposed  to  overlook  the 
fact  that  Kit  Townley  and  Ned  Barret — scapegraces  by  repute — 
were  of  the  party,  nor  that  Augusta's  name  had  been  familiarly 
used  in  their  midst. 

" '  Birds  of  a  feather  flock  together,' "  said  the  lady  ;  "  and  if 
Mr.  Aspinall's  son  associates  with  that  reckless  and  dishonest 
Kit  Townley,  he  is  a  very  unfit  friend  for  John  Walmsley,  and 
still  worse  for  our  dear  Augusta." 

"Just  so;  for  a  dashing  blade  with  a  handsome  face,  who 
sports  a  uniform,  talks  poetry,  and  sings  sentimental  songs,  is  just 
the  fellow  to  take  a  silly  girl's  fancy,  before  she  is  old  enough 
to  think.  I  know  I  regret  I  ever  brought  him  here?  said  Mr. 
Ashton  seriously,  as  Augusta  came  in  the  room  to  breakfast, 
entering  at  the  door  behind  her  mother's  back. 

"Well,  William,"  observed  Mrs.  Ashton  loftily,  her  hand  on 
the  china  coffee-pot,  "you  can  imagine  my  annoyance  when  John 
and  Mr.  Laurence  walked  in  arm-in-arm  last  night,  after  the 
liberty  he  had  taken  in  the  morning — kissing  his  hand  to  our 
daughter  from  the  public  procession  in  the  face  of  all  our  friends, 
as  if  Augusta  had  been  a  flaunting  barmaid.  I  was  most 
indignant!" 

Augusta  said  "  Good  morning,"  and  took  her  seat  with  a 
heightened  colour.  Such  a  construction  of  the  gallant  officer's 
salute  had  not  occurred  to  her,  and  native  delicacy  took 
alarm. 

Mrs.  Ashton  continued  to  pour  out  her  thoughts  along  with 
the  coffee.  It  was  fit  Augusta  should  know  her  sentiments  on 
this  head. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  325 

"  It  would  have  been  a  breach  of  hospitality  to  resent  it 
before  our  friends,  and  not  good  policy  either.  But  I  shall  put 
a  stop  to  his  visits  henceforth." 

"  Oh !  mamma,"  exclaimed  Augusta  dropping  her  hands  at 
this  climax,  "  you  cannot  mean  that  ? " 

"Yes,  my  dear,  I  do.  If  Mr.  Aspinall  has  depraved  associates, 
he  must  be  depraved  himself;  and  I  am  sure  my  daughter" — 
she  drew  herself  up  proudly — "would  not  choose  her  friends  from 
those  of  Christopher  Townley." 

Augusta's  colour  suffered  no  decrease.  She  paused  as  she 
was  taking  her  dry  toast  from  the  silver  rack,  and  half-hesitatingly 
remonstrated. 

"  Of  course  I  should  not  wish  to  associate  with  Mr.  Townley's 
friends.  But  papa  may  be  mistaken.  I  do  not  think  Mr. 
Aspinall  would  mix  with  them.  People  meet  and  mingle  at 
coach-offices  who  are  strangers." 

"Just  so,  my  dear;  but "   interposed  her  father. 

"  Why,  mamma,"  the  persistent  young  lady  went  on,  "  no  more 
perfect  gentleman  enters  our  doors  than  Mr.  Laurence  Aspinall. 
His  manners  are  most  refined.  Then  he  talks  enchantingly,  and 
sings  divinely.  And " — this  she  thought  conclusive — "  is  he  not 
intimate  with  Charlotte  and  John  ? " 

"Just  so,"  quickly  answered  Mr.  Ashton,  glancing  across  the 
table  at  his  attentive  wife,  "and  all  the  worse  for  Charlotte  and 
John.  I  shall  have  a  word  with  them  on  the  subject.  I 
called  in  Marsden  Square  on  my  way  home,  and  found  Charlotte 
with  red  eyes.  John  had  not  been  home  all  night."  And  Mr. 
Ashton  battered  the  top  of  an  egg  whilst  delivering  what  he 
regarded  as  a  crushing  argument. 

Breakfast  and  the  discussion  were  unusually  prolonged,  the 
only  impression  left  on  the  young  lady's  romantic,  impressible, 
and  inexperienced  mind  being  that  her  parents  were  unaccountably 


326  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

harsh  to  her  and  unjust  to  Mr.  Laurence,  in  her  eyes  the 
beau-ideal  of  a  man.  Such  a  figure  and  such  a  face  could 
only  enshrine  divinity,  And  if  he  was  a  little  wild,  so  were 
all  heroes  at  his  age. 

Let  not  the  inexperienced  young  girl  be  over-much  condemned 
for  this.  The  opinion  generally  prevailed  in  her  day ;  she  had 
heard  the  sentiment  expressed  in  farces  on  the  stage,  in  society 
at  home  and  elsewhere ;  even  her  own  father's  hospitality 
trended  in  the  same  direction. 

Mrs.  Ashton  was  a  woman  of  her  word.  The  door  in  Mosley 
Street  was  closed  against  Mr.  Laurence  Aspinall,  and  James 
was  incorruptible. 

But  the  teaching  of  Miss  Bohanna's  library  being  that  Love 
was  far-seeing  and  parents  were  blind,  it  followed  that  Miss 
Augusta  (who  would  have  resented  any  supposition  of  wilful 
disobedience  or  intentional  disrespect  towards  the  good  father 
and  mother  she  loved  so  dearly)  met  the  fascinating  gentleman 
(always  by  chance)  either  at  her  cousin's  in  Marsden  Square  or 
in  her  walks  abroad,  and  scented  billet-doux  came  and  went 
between  the  leaves  of  four-volumed  romances  which  Cicily  carried 
to  and  from  the  library.  One  of  these  fell  into  Mrs.  Ashton's 
hands,  when,  finding  her  advice  contemned,  she  took  measures 
to  check  this  premature  and  clandestine  love-making,  as  she 
thought,  effectually. 


CHAPTER    THE    THIRTY-FIFTH. 


AT    CARR    COTTAGE. 

OM  HULME  was  most 
anxious  to  get  back  to 
Whaley  Bridge  and  the 
mill,  and  motherly  Bess 
was  equally  uneasy  to  re- 
turn to  her  poor  little  Sim, 
afraid  lest  he  should  tax 
his  grandfather's  strength 
over-much,  or  meet  with 
some  fresh  accident.  Yet 
more  than  a  week  elapsed 
before  her  husband  was  fit 
to  travel,  and  in  the  interim 
Mr.  Ashton  had  himself 
"WHITE  HART"  SIGN  OK  EASEL.  gone  thither  to  ascertain 

how  the  new  substitute  filled  the  post. 

He  was  still  at  Carr  Cottage  when  the  "Lord  Nelson"  stopped 
at  the  end  of  the  avenue,  and  Jabez,  with  fragile  Sim  mounted 
on  his  shoulder,  trotted  down  to  the  gate  to  welcome  Bess  and 
her  invalid  home.  They  had  travelled  inside,  but  John  Loudon 
MacAdam  had  not  yet  been  appointed  "Surveyor  of  Roads," 
and  Tom  Hulme  had  suffered  severely  from  the  jolting  of  the 
coach. 


328  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

Bess  clasped  her  child  tenderly,  and  held  him  up  for  his 
father's  kiss  ;  but  she  put  him  down  to  waddle  on  before  them 
(he  could  not  run),  whilst  she  and  Jabez  helped  the  injured 
corporal  to  ascend  the  steep  incline.  Old  Simon,  who  seemed 
to  have  got  a  new  lease  of  life  from  the  invigorating  country  air 
and  occupation,  had  already  breakfasted,  and  was  in  the  bean- 
field  gathering  the  first  ripe  pods  for  a  dinner  of  beans  and  bacon. 

"Eh,  Turn,  lad,"  said  he,  as  he  entered  the  house-place,  and 
saw  his  son-in-law's  pale  face  against  the  blue-and-white  check 
cover  of  the  arm-chair,  "  whoi,  thi  feace  is  as  whoite  as  a  clout ! 
Tha'll  noan  be  fit  to  wark  fur  one  whoile.  Thah's  nobbut  fit  fur 
t'  sit  under  th'  sycymore  tree,  an'  look  at  th'  fleawers,  an'  watch 
me  put  th'  garden  i'  fettle." 

"Just  so,"  said  Mr.  Ashton,  bringing  his  pleasant  face  in  at 
the  door ;  "  I  think  Mr.  Clegg  will  have  to  do  duty  for  you  a 
while  longer.  And  don't  distress  yourself  about  it,  Mr.  Hulme, 
for  I  fancy  a  little  fresh  air  will  do  him  no  harm  this  hot  weather ; 
he  has  been  overworking  lately,  and  does  not  look  too  brisk." 

"You  are  very  kind,  sir,"  responded  Jabez,  "but  I  trust  a  few 
days'  rest  will  set  Mr.  Hulme  on  his  feet  again."  He  said  nothing 
of  himself. 

But  Tom  Hulme  had  received  unsuspected  internal  injuries, 
and  many  weeks  went  by  before  he  was  stout  as  before — weeks 
pregnant  with  fate  for  Jabez ;  and  not  Jabez  alone. 

Factory  hours  were  long,  but  the  summer  days  were  longer, 
and  he  was  glad  after  work  was  over  to  ramble  away  through 
the  valley  of  the  Goyt,  following  the  winding  of  the  stream,  or 
over  the  larch-clad  hills  above  Taxal,  whence  he  would  return 
with  the  rising  moon,  bringing  pockets  full  of  the  crisp-brown 
fir-cones  for  Sim  to  play  with.  In  the  pine-woods,  alone  with 
nature,  he  could  give  vent  to  his  emotions,  or  indulge  in  meditation 
at  his  will. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  329 

Mr.  Ashton,  however,  found  him  other  occupation  for  his  spare 
hours.  The  landlord  of  the  "White  Hart,"  bearing  in  mind  that 
Mr.  Clegg  had  come  under  his  roof  first  as  a  travelling  artist, 
had  expatiated  to  Mr.  Ashton  with  much  pathos  on  the  deplorable 
condition  of  the  inn  sign,  not  without  sundry  broad  hints  that 
Mr.  Clegg's  temporary  residence  on  the  spot  was  a  glorious 
opportunity  not  to  be  neglected.  Mr.  Ashton  had  smiled,  said 
"Just  so,"  taking  a  pinch  from  the  immense  snuff-box  lying  on 
the  bar-parlour  chimney-piece,  then  falling  back  upon  his  own, 
had  gone  away,  and  forgot  the  dingy  sign  altogether,  until 
another  hint  from  his  tenant  refreshed  his  memory. 

As  he  stood  at  the  inn  door  waiting  for  the  Manchester  coach, 
an  upward  sly  glance  of  the  jolly  host's  caused  him  to  say  to  the 
young  man  by  his  side,  "Do  you  think  you  could  manage  to  paint 
a  new  sign  for  the  'White  Hart,'  to  oblige  Chapman  and  me?" 

Jabez  hesitated,  not   from  unwillingness. 

"I'm  afraid,  sir,  to  attempt.      It's  not  in  my  line,  and " 

"  Oh !   you  can  do  it  well  enough.     Remember  the  banner." 

"  I've  no  materials  here,  sir,  else " 

"  If  that  is  all,  you  shall  have  them  in  a  day  or  two." 

In  a  few  days  an  easel,  a  new  sign-board,  and  colours  were  sent 
by  the  Manchester  and  Buxton  carrier,  and  Jabez  set  to  work, 
to  the  especial  wonder  and  admiration  of  little  Sim,  who  delighted 
to  stand  by  his  side,  and  grew  rebellious  when  "  bedtime "  was 
announced.  Jabez  was,  however,  but  an  untaught  artist,  and  his 
painting  hours  were  few;  the  couchant  hart  was  rubbed  in  and 
wiped  out  over  and  over  again  before  he  was  satisfied  even  with 
the  outline ;  but  then  it  grew  in  fair  proportion  under  his  brush, 
until  he  felt  there  was  something  in  him  beyond  the  region  of 
tapes  and  braces. 

The  graceful  animal,  resplendent  in  golden  collar  and  chain, 
looked  mildly  out  from  the  easel  in  the  parlour  nearest  to  the 


33°  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

passage  (used,  when  the  family  was  there,  as  an  eating-room), 
and  little  Sim  gravely  reported  to  his  elders  it  only  wanted  "gass, 
an'  tee,  an'  ky,"  when  the  inmates  of  Carr  Cottage  were  startled 
by  the  arrival  of  unexpected  visitors. 

It  was  the  second  week  in  August ;  the  air  was  heavy  with 
the  perfume  of  clove  carnations,  honeysuckle,  mignonette,  lavender, 
musk,  and  mint.  Golden  sunflower  and  crimson  hollyhock  were 
in  their  glory;  bees  and  wasps  hovered  over  balsams  and  china 
asters,  or  hid  themselves  in  the  blue  Canterbury  bells  or  the 
amber  nectary  of  the  stately  white  lily.  Fruits  were  ripe  for  the 
gatherer,  grain  was  falling  under  the  sickle.  Bess,  in  a  fair  white 
muslin  cap,  a  large  check  apron  over  her  dark  chocolate-and-white- 
print  gown  (her  blue  bedgown  days  were  over),  was  moving  quietly 
about  the  house-place,  preparing  their  early  breakfast,  no  longer 
restricted  to  oatmeal  porridge. 

Tom,  looking  worn,  but  clean  and  neat  as  loving  hands  could 
make  him,  leaned  back  in  his  soft  arm-chair,  and  watched  her 
with  well-satisfied  eyes.  Little  Sim  was  already  in  the  garden 
with  his  grandfather,  helping  to  gather  raspberries  and  currants 
for  preserving. 

The  tall  oak-cased  clock  struck  seven,  and  then,  true  to  time, 
the  guard's  bugle  announced  the  coming  of  the  coach  from 
Manchester.  Instinctively  Bess  went  to  the  door,  as  was  her 
wont,  when  the  coach  came  in.  She  uttered  an  exclamation 
of  surprise. 

"  Eh,  Turn !  aw  declare  t'  coach  is  stoppin'  at  ar  gate.  Happen 
theer's  a  parcel  or  summat  for  ar  Jabez." 

And  off  she  set  past  the  kitchen  window  and  the  farm-yard 
Gothic  doorway,  and  down  the  avenue,  with  the  light  foot  of 
a  younger  woman.  Before  she  reached  the  avenue  gate,  the 
stuffy  vehicle  had  yielded  up  three  ladies  and  two  bandboxes, 
and  the  guard  having  unlocked  the  capacious  boot  (a  kind  of 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  331 

closet  at  the  back),  dragged  thence,  with  much  superfluous 
puffing  and  straining,  two  hair  trunks  of  moderate  dimensions. 
Yes,  there  stood  Mrs.  Ashton,  grandly  calm ;  bright-haired 
Augusta,  tall,  slim,  and,  it  must  be  added,  unamiably  silent ; 
and  Ellen  Chadwick,  whose  black  eyes  had  an  absolute  glow 
of  expectancy  in  their  depths.  Bess  put  up  her  hand  in 
amazement. 

"  Eh,  Mrs.  Ashton,  madam !  Yo'  han  takken  us  unawares ! 
An'  theer  is  na  a  bit  o'  flesh  meat  i'  th'  heause,  an'  th'  butcher's 
cart  wunna  be  reawnd  agen  till  Setterday !  But  awn  downreet 
glad  to  see  yo'  an'  th'  young  ladies  (she  dropped  a  respectful 
curtsey)  an'  a'  lookin'  so  weel.  Aw  wur  afeard  yo'  wur  no' 
comin'  this  summer." 

"  Never  mind  the  butcher's  meat,  Mrs.  Hulme ;  having  come 
to  Carr,  we  must  do  as  Carr  does.  I  do  not  doubt  we  shall 
fare  very  well,"  said  the  stately  lady,  reassuringly.  "  I  trust  we 
shall  find  your  good  husband  free  from  pain,  and  Mr.  Clegg  and 
your  family  in  health." 

Bess  thanked  Mrs.  Ashton  for  her  kind  inquiries,  but  somehow 
she  boggled  over  the  "Mr.  Clegg."  She  was  proud  enough  of 
his  advancement,  but  to  her  he  was  still  "Jabez,"  and  he  did 
not  seek  to  be  otherwise. 

There  was  a  difficulty  about  the  luggage,  no  men  being  about. 
By  this  time  old  Simon  was  nearly  down  the  hill,  little  Sim  following 
at  his  heels,  his  face,  hands,  and  pinafore  stained  with  fruit. 

"I  run  for  Joe,"  cried  crippled  Sim,  as  Bess  tried  the  weight 
of  a  trunk,  and  Ellen  interposed.  Run,  indeed !  It  was  the 
very  travestie  of  a  run  ! 

"Well,  yo'  see  as  heaw  o'  Moore's  folk  are  eawt  i'  th'  fields 
cuttin'  whoats  [oats].  Feyther  an'  me  con  carry  one  on  'em 
atween  us.  They're  noan  so  heavy,"  said  Tom,  who  had 
followed  in  the  wake  of  Bess. 


332  THB    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Mrs.  Ashton  would  not  hear  of  it.  Just  then  little  Sim  came 
back  with  Joe — his  most  particular  friend,  to  whom  he  was  chief 
patron — a  drivelling  idiot,  a  man  in  frame,  a  child  in  heart  and 
brain.  He  was  a  pitiable  object,  the  scoff  of  the  rabble,  but 
he  had  sense  enough  to  know  his  protectors.  At  the  instance 
of  the  four-year-old  child  he  shouldered  the  box  with  a  vacant 
chuckle,  and  Sim,  loaded  with  an  oval  pasteboard  bandbox  half 
as  big  as  himself,  waddled  after  him  as  fast  as  his  deformity 
would  permit. 

Before  the  travellers  could  reach  the  top  of  the  avenue  Jabez 
Clegg  was  with  them,  the  other  trunk  upon  his  shoulder.  He 
had  heard  at  the  "White  Hart"  of  their  arrival,  and  had  almost 
sacrificed  the  dignity  of  his  position  in  his  desire  to  run. 

There  were  more  greetings,  accompanied  by  a  cordial  shaking 
of  hands,  and  Bess  and  Simon  looked  on  with  pleasure,  not 
unmixed  with  pain,  that  the  foundling  they  had  adopted  and 
reared  had  mounted  far  above  their  heads,  albeit  in  rising  he 
had  drawn  them  up  too. 

He  breakfasted  not  with  them  in  the  house-place,  but  with 
the  new-comers  in  the  parlour,  and  Bess  herself  waited  upon 
them,  Meg,  her  little  maid,  being  off  in  the  harvest  field 
gleaning  for  a  bed-ridden  mother. 

She  heard  him  conversing  freely,  if  deferentially,  with  the 
lofty  Mrs.  Ashton  on  topics,  and  in  a  language  her  provincial 
tongue  could  never  compass.  She  saw  him  turn  to  answer  the 
arch  sallies  of  Miss  Ashton,  and  the  quieter  observations  of 
Miss  Chadwick,  and  noted  that  the  dark  eyes  of  the  latter 
kindled  when  he  spoke,  and  her  cheeks  had  a  warmer  glow,  as 
if  they  caught  their  hue  from  the  flushed  face  of  Jabez. 

Breakfast  over — little  Sim  had  sat  on  the  doorstep  to  share 
his  with  Crazy  Joe,  whilst  Ellen  and  Augusta  retired  to  unpack — 
Mrs.  Ashton  graciously  accepted  the  escort  of  Mr.  Clegg  to  the 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  333 

mill,  and  they  trod  the  avenue  and  the  high-road  side  by  side, 
discussing  business  matters,  her  dignity  losing  no  whit  by  the 
companionship.  Mrs.  Ashton  was  one  of  those  who  could  lift  up 
without  stooping. 

Clouds  never  lingered  on  Augusta's  face ;  she  had  been 
transported  thither,  as  she  said,  "with  no  more  ceremony  than 
a  bale  of  twist,"  but  she  put  off  her  displeasure  with  her 
travelling  bonnet,  and  danced  into  the  kitchen  airily  as  a  sylph, 
to  help  Bess  out  of  the  quandary  caused  by  their  advent. 

"  I  am  afraid  our  arrival  has  been  very  inauspicious,"  Augusta 
said,  "  but  I  can  assure  you  I  was  not  consulted,  and  am  not 
to  blame."  (She  had  certainly  not  been  consulted — blame  was 
another  matter.)  "  And  now  what  can  I  do  for  you,  Mrs. 
Hulme?" 

Augusta  tucked  up  the  sleeves  of  her  peach-coloured  gingham 
dress,  borrowed  a  linen  apron  from  Bess,  who  confessed  to 
being  "  rayther  a  heavy  hond  at  paste,"  and  soon  the  matron 
was  at  ease  respecting  pies,  and  tarts,  and  custards.  Simon 
Clegg  brought  in  a  dish  of  trout  fresh  from  the  stream,  the 
larder  supplied  savoury  ham  and  eggs,  the  garden  furnished 
peas,  so  Mrs.  Ashton  was  not  far  wrong. 

It  was  but  a  spurt  on  Augusta's  part  ;  her  tender  im- 
pressionable heart  had  melted  at  Mrs.  Hulme's  first  look  of  dismay, 
but,  the  impulse  over,  there  was  no  more  tucking  up  of  sleeves 
or  handling  of  paste  pins.  Fortunately  for  their  digestion,  Ellen 
Chadwick  had  no  less  skill,  since,  quiet  as  she  was,  she  seemed 
to  lack  an  outlet  for  superabundant  energy,  and,  obtrusively 
restless,  helped  Bess  she  hardly  knew  how,  or  how  much. 

Augusta  wandered  about  cottage  and  garden,  or  sat  for  hours 
under  the  shade  of  the  great  sycamore  tree,  singing  low-voiced 
plaintive  ditties ;  feeling  herself  the  most  ill-used  and  wretched 
being  in  existence,  separated  from  her  adorable  lover ;  and  the 


334  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

more  she  brooded,  the  more  discontented  and  melancholy  she 
became.  It  was  all  very  real  and  very  much  to  be  deplored. 
No  knife  cuts  so  keenly  at  the  heart-strings  as  the  sharp  edge 
of  a  first  love  turned  in  upon  itself;  and  Augusta  was  as  much 
in  love  as  ever  was  maiden  of  seventeen. 

Mrs.  Ashton  went  daily  to  the  mill,  but  a  casual  remark  of 
Mrs.  Hulme's  on  "  Miss  Ashton's  mopin'  an'  malancholy "  aroused 
the  attention  of  the  energetic  mother,  and  she  did  her  best  to 
counteract  morbid  fancies  with  long  sharp  walks  in  the  early 
morning  (extending,  on  one  occasion,  as  far  as  Shawcross  Hall, 
where  she  astonished  her  relatives  by  an  informal  visit),  and  a 
repetition  of  the  dose  in  the  evening,  when  Mr.  Clegg  made 
one  of  the  party,  thus  unconsciously  adding  fuel  to  the  fires 
which,  unknown  to  her,  consumed  alike  her  niece  and  her 
warehouseman. 

At  the  end  of  ten  days,  Mrs.  Ashton  returned  to  Manchester, 
leaving  the  girls  behind.  She  had  extorted  a  promise  from 
Augusta  that  she  would  not  write  to  Mr.  Laurence  Aspinall,  and 
relied  on  that  promise  being  faithfully  kept  Moreover,  after 
some  debate  with  herself,  as  they  walked  from  the  mill  together 
on  the  last  afternoon  of  her  stay,  she  committed  her  daughter 
and  niece  to  Jabez  Clegg's  care. 

"  You  are  a  very  young  man  for  so  important  a  charge,"  she 
said,  "  but  you  are  steady  as  old  Time,  and  of  your  integrity 
and  fidelity  we  have  had  many  proofs.  Miss  Ashton's  health 
demands  a  prolonged  stay  on  this  breezy  hill-side,  but  I  fear 
she  feels  it  dull  after  Manchester.  If  you  will  endeavour  to 
amuse  her  when  you  see  her  drooping,  I  shall  consider  myself 
your  debtor,  sir ;  and  should  anything  unusual  attract  your  notice, 
I  depend  on  your  calling  our  attention  to  it." 

"  I  feel  honoured  by  the  trust  you  repose  in  me,  madam," 
replied  he,  a  grave  consciousne5S  of  his  own  danger  stirring  at 


THE    MANCHESTEP     MAN.  335 

his  heart ;  "  you  may  depend  on  my  watchfulness  over  Miss 
Ashton  and  her  cousin." 

But  of  any  danger  to  Miss  Ashton  beyond  that  arising  from 
a  sensitively  delicate  frame,  which  might  need  the  sudden 
summons  of  Dr.  Hull  to  allay  the  fears  of  parents  anxious  for 
their  only  child,  he  had  no  suspicion  or  perception.  He  had  no 
more  clue  to  Mrs.  Ashton's  hidden  meaning  than  she  to  his 
secret  emotions.  It  had  been  wiser  to  have  been  more  explicit. 
Without  that  charge  he  might  have  made  it  a  point  of  honour, 
if  not  of  duty,  to  hold  aloof  from  the  young  ladies,  lest  he 
should  be  obtrusive  ;  as  it  was,  the  more  he  pondered,  the  more 
he  became  satisfied  that  it  was  only  a  delicate  way  of  giving 
sanction  to  a  companionship  he  might  otherwise  have  regarded 
as  presumptuous. 

Accordingly,  he  constituted  himself  their  cavalier  after  business 
hours,  fulfilling  to  the  letter  his  instructions  to  endeavour  to  amuse 
Augusta  whenever  he  found  her  drooping,  well  rewarded  if  he 
could  win  back  a  smile  or  a  peal  of  the  rippling  laughter  he  had 
heard  so  oft  in  her  school-girl  days.  His  attentions  to  Miss 
Chadwick  were  tinctured  with  the  profoundest  respect,  but  there 
was  no  effort  to  entertain  or  be  agreeable ;  on  the  contrary,  it 
was  Miss  Chadwick  who  kept  the  light  shafts  of  her  cousin's 
wit  within  bounds  when  they  were  likely  to  wound — as  they  did 
sometimes. 

The  "White  Hart,"  to  Sim's  disquiet,  would  have  suffered  long 
from  dearth  of  herbage,  had  not  thunderous  clouds  emptied  their 
reservoirs  amongst  the  hills,  until  brooks  became  rivers,  and  roads 
almost  impassable.  Then  Jabez  resumed  his  brush,  Sim  clapped 
his  thin  little  hands  with  delight,  whilst  the  sedate  young  lady  of 
twenty-four,  and  the  bewitching  damsel  of  sweet  seventeen,  varied 
the  monotony  of  piano,  book,  or  embroidery-frame,  with  an  occa- 
sional criticism  of  his  work, 


336  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

It  was  a  time  fraught  with  intoxicating  delight,  but  ol  terrible 
temptation  to  Jabez.  The  frequent  fits  of  languor  which  bowed 
Augusta  down  like  a  drooping  lily,  made  her  only  more  dangerously 
dear  to  him,  and  it  needed  all  his  strength  to  remember  that  she 
was  his  master's  daughter,  and  confided  to  his  care.  If  he  now 
thought  of  Laurence  Aspinall  and  his  fascination,  it  was  only  as 
a  butterfly  beau,  for  whom  no  sensible  maiden  could  entertain  a 
permanent  liking.  Not  even  when,  turning  back  one  forenoon 
for  something  in  the  closet  which  he  had  forgotten,  he  found  her 
in  tears  on  the  low  ledge  of  the  open  window  at  the  foot  of 
the  staircase. 

"Good  heavens!  Miss  Ashton,  what  is  the  matter?  Are  you 
ill  ?  Is  anything  troubling  you  ?  " 

"Nothing,"   sobbed  she,  the  clear  drops   falling  faster. 

"Nothing!  oh,  Miss  Ashton,  this  cannot  be  for  nothing,"  and 
he  sat  down  on  the  window-ledge  beside  her,  not  daring  so  much 
as  to  touch  her  hand,  his  own  were  in  such  a  quiver. 

"  Miss  Ashton — Augusta — you  told  me  your  troubles  when  you 
were  a  school-girl,  am  I  less  worthy  your  confidence  now  ?  Can 
I  do  anything  to  serve  you  ?  I  would  lay  my  life  down  to  save 
you  from  pain  ; "  and  the  earnest  tenderness  of  his  voice  spoke 
volumes. 

She  had  subdued  her  emotion.  Gathering  herself  up  with  a 
reflex  of  her  mother's  stateliness,  she  said  haughtily,  "  It  is  nothing, 
sir,  I  am  better,"  and  swept  past  him  up  the  staircase,  leaving  him  to 
set  his  teeth  and  turn  away  with  clenched  hands,  alike  exasperated 
at  his  own  loss  of  self-command  and  grieved  for  her  grief. 

On  the  narrow  landing  which  ran  parallel  with  the  staircase 
like  a  balcony,  Augusta  found  her  cousin  Ellen,  with  one  hand 
on  her  side,  leaning  against  the  chamber  door-post,  as  if  for 
support,  with  closed  eyes  and  pale  lips.  She  had  been  "over- 
come  by  the  heat" — so  she  said. 


CHAPTER    THE    THIRTY-SIXTH. 

THE    LOVERS'    WALK. 

TABEZ   held    a   responsible   post,   and   had  no  more   leisure 
than   other  business   men    for   emotional   indulgence.      He 
hurried  out  of  the  cottage,  and    down  the  avenue,  shutting 
up  his  bitter  feelings   within   the    door   of  his  heart  as  he 
went.     But    the   process    closed    his    eyes    and    ears    to    external 
sounds,  and  the  old  postman,   with   his  long   tin   horn,   which  had 
been  echoing  through  the  straggling   village   a   full   quarter  of   an 
hour,  passed  him  in  the  avenue  and  said,  "  Good  day,"  without   so 
much   as   arresting  his   attention. 

At  the  mill  he  found  letters  waiting — one,  which  had  been 
post-paid  as  a  double  letter,  conspicuous  amongst  the  wafered 
business  communications,  not  only  because  of  its  thick,  gilt-edged 
paper,  and  crimson  disk  of  crested  wax,  but  from  its  curious  folding, 
as  if  to  baffle  prying  eyes. 

It  was  signed  "  Ben  Travis,"  and  was  so  long,  it  went  into  a 
pantaloon  pocket,  to  be  read  when  his  multifarious  duties  allowed 
him  more  leisure. 

When  the  hands  were  dismissed  at  noon,  and  the  one  clerk 
had  left  the  counting-house,  he  took  out  the  voluminous  epistle, 
which  was  dated  September  loth,  and  certainly  found  therein 
matter  of  interest.  Amongst  a  few  preliminary  items  of  news,  he 
learned  that  the  excesses  of  the  Coronation  night  had  created 
so  much  disgust  in  the  minds  of  thinking  men  that  many  of 


338  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

those  who  had  denounced  Henry  Hunt's  advocacy  of  abstinence 
and  at  the  public  expense  had  formerly  disseminated  printed 
laudations  of  good  brown  ale,  the  "  old  English  beverage,"  as  "  a 
cheering  and  strengthening  drink,"  no  longer  branded  the  water- 
drinkers  as  "  enemies  to  the  corporeal  constitution  of  Englishmen," 
but  had  given  their  countenance  to  social  gatherings  whence 
intoxicating  liquors  were  excluded.  Travis  himself  was  doing  what 
he  could  to  promote  these  temperate  meetings,  and  looked  for  the 
earnest  co-operation  of  Mr.  Clegg  on  his  return  to  Manchester.  (And 
reformers  saw  in  advance  how  universal  would  become  the 
temperance  movement  of  which  this  was  the  unpretending 
precursor. 

The  letter  went  on  to  say — 

"Miss  Chadwick  and  her  fair  cousin  were  spirited  aivay 
mysteriously.  At  first  I  blamed  myself  as  the  unhappy  cause.  I 
have  since  discovered  my  mistake,  through  a  quarrel  betiueen  Mr. 
Walmsley  and  Mr.  Laurence  Aspinall,  when  both  were  slaves  to 
Bacchus — "/#  vino  veritas  /"  I  suppose,  you  know  that  Mr.  Aspinall 
the  elder  is  a  martyr  to  the  gout,  and  has  been  driven  by  his  enemy 
to  the  Buxton  baths.  The  cause,  I  have  heard,  was  a  gentlemanly 
debauch  in  a  fit  of  passion  or  wounded  pride.  His  son  joins  him  to- 
day. I  scarcely  think  he  will  call  on  your  young  ladies  after  what 
has  occurred!' 

"What  has   occurred?"    repeated    Jabez,    "what    can    he    mean 
by  that  ?     I   wish  correspondents  would  be  more  explicit ! " 

He  pondered  over  this  sentence,  but  could  make  nothing  of 
it,  and  after  reading  a  little  way,  came  to  the  real  object  of 
the  letter,  prefaced  as  it  was  with  much  circumlocution. 

"//  may  seem  strange  that  a  great,  big,  burly  fellow  like  myself 
should  be  such  a  booby  as  to  seek  the  intervention  of  a  third  person 
in  an  affair  of  the  heart.  Yet,  if  I  have  any  insight  into  your 
nature,  1  think  I  may  confide  in  you,  and  defend  on  your  good 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  339 

offices.  After  so  many  months'1  dangling,  and  craven  hesitation,  I 
summoned  up  courage  to  make  my  pretensions  known  to  Miss 
Chadwick.  I  know  I  did  it  clumsily  and  ungracefully ;  the  very 
strength  of  my  passion  fettered  my  tongue.  I  shall  never  forget  the 
pitiful  look  of  the  sweet  girl  as  she  burst  into  tears,  assiired  me  of 
her  esteem,  but  declined  my  suit.  Her  tears  unnerved  me,  and  I  had 
not  power  to  plead  my  oivn  cause.  Do  not  despise  me,  Clegg ;  neither 
Samson  nor  Hercules  was  any  stronger.  I  cannot  resign  myself  to 
that  verdict.  I  would  throw  myself  again  at  Ellen's  feet,  and 
beseech  her  pity,  but  that  I  dread  its  repetition.  Can  I  count  on 
your  good  offices  to  move  her  in  my  behalf?  I  knoiv  the  value 
Miss  Chadwick  sets  on  your  opinion,  and  how  highly  she  esteems  you, 
or  I  should  not  think  of  asking  this.  The  trust  I  repose  in  you  is 
the  best  proof  I  can  give  of  friendship.  Do  not  hesitate  to  tell 
me  the  ivorst.  I  hope  I  am  brave  enough  to  bear  my  fate — when  I 
know  it.  Mrs.  Chadwick  does  not  believe  her  daughters  decision  final." 

This  was  a  disquieting  letter.  Mr.  Travis  had  been  his  firm, 
true  friend,  in  spite  of  difference  in  position  and  fortune.  He 
had  overlooked  that  difference  from  the  first,  but  would  Miss 
Chadwick,  his  employer's  niece,  overlook  it,  if  he  stepped  beyond 
privileged  bounds?  From  the  depths  of  his  own  conscious  heart 
he  felt  grieved  for  his  friend,  but  how  to  approach  so  delicate 
a  subject  to  serve  him  was  perplexing.  He  never  thought  of 
shirking  the  trust. 

It  was  late  when  he  got  home  to  dinner.  Ellen  and  Bess 
were  both  on  the  look-out  for  him.  He  quickened  his  pace, 
fearing  some  evil  to  his  beloved  Augusta,  whom  he  had  last 
seen  in  tears. 

"  What  an  anomaly  is  woman ! "  he  thought,  as  he  found 
her  fingers  rattling  over  the  keys  of  her  piano  in  accompaniment 
to  the  merriest  ditty  he  had  heard  from  her  lips  since  she  was 
a  child, 


340  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

There  was  a  strange  sparkle  in  her  eyes,  a  vivacity  in  her 
manner  so  opposed  to  her  sadness  that  he  asked  himself  if  he 
had  been  dreaming  before,  or  was  dreaming  then.  She  blushed 
over  her  willow-pattern  plate  as  she  took  her  seat,  but,  after 
that  first  token  of  susceptibility,  chatted  with  a  volubility  unusual 
to  her,  and  curiously  in  contradistinction  to  the  silence  and  reserve 
of  Ellen  Chadwick.  In  the  morning  he  had  debated  whether 
that  secret  trouble  came  within  the  category  of  "  unusual "  things 
Mrs.  Ashton  required  to  be  informed  of,  and,  behold !  it  was 
gone! 

She  rallied  both  Jabez  and  Ellen  on  their  gravity,  and  at 
length,  as  if  on  a  sudden  inspiration,  asked,  playing  with  her 
green-handled,  two-pronged  fork — 

"  Shall  you  be  very  busy  at  the  mill  this  afternoon,  Mr. 
Clegg?" 

It  was  an  unusual  question.     He  answered — 

"Rather.  Some  bales  of  twist  have  come  in  from  Messrs. 
Evans,  of  Darley-Abbey  Mills.  I  must  see  them  unpacked,  and 
compare  the  twist  with  samples.  But — your  motive  for  asking  ? " 

"  Oh,  if  you  are  busy Well,  perhaps  after  tea  will  be  better ; 

it  will  be  cooler.     I   wish  you  would  just  take  Ellen  a  good  long 
walk ;  I  found  her  fainting  with  the  heat  this   morning." 

Ellen   coloured  vividly. 

"Augusta!"  she  remonstrated. 

"  And  yourself,   Miss  Ashton  ? "   questioned  he. 

"Oh,  I  have  a  heap  of  clear-starching  to  do.  My  frills  and 
laces  are  in  a  woeful  plight.  I  shall  be  clap,  clap,  clap,  all  the 
afternoon,  and  this  sultry  weather  prohibits  ironing  until  there 
is  a  cool  evening  breeze  to  fan  me  through  the  window.  Without 
it  I  should  be  as  likely  to  faint  as  Ellen." 

Miss  Chadwick  made  light  of  her  faintness,  and  objected,  if 
not  too  strenuously,  to  be  so  disposed  of;  but  Augusta,  in  her 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  341 

old  wilful  way,  insisted,  and  Jabez,  with  his  friend's  letter  on 
his  mind,  was  not  likely  to  throw  opposition  in  the  way.  So, 
notwithstanding  his  recent  rebuff,  he  was  once  more  "  Miss 
Ashton's  humble  servant  to  command." 

After  an  early  tea,  which  was  but  a  fiction  to  all  three, 
Augusta  was  left  behind,  busy  with  her  box-iron  and  her  lady- 
like laundry  of  lace  and  muslin  in  the  house-place,  whilst  Ellen 
Chadwick  and  Jabez  went  rambling  with  the  winding  waters  of 
the  translucent  Goyt,  under  umbrageous  trees  on  pleasant 
mountain  slopes,  where  foxgloves  nodded  and  horsetail  grasses 
bent  before  them,  and  only  an  occasional  reaper  or  gleaner 
crossed  their  path. 

Had  these  two  been  incipient  lovers,  no  more  embarrassing 
silence  could  have  fallen  upon  them.  If  Jabez,  her  junior  by 
two  years,  had  had  a  tussle  to  keep  his  love  within  bounds, 
there  had  at  least  been  a  glimmer  of  hope  in  the  distance,  and 
the  struggle  was  upwards.  Ellen  had  been  trained  from  her 
childhood  to  keep  her  naturally  strong  feelings  under  control, 
but  there  was  a  war  in  her  breast  between  maidenly  shame 
and  unsought,  hopeless  love,  and  the  two  hacked  at  each  other 
and  at  her  heart  in  the  rayless  dark,  and  the  struggle  was 
downwards. 

Here  she  was,  for  the  first  time,  alone  with  the  man  she 
loved  with  all  the  strength  of  a  strong  heart,  with  the  newly- 
gained  knowledge  that  he  "  would  die  to  save  her  cousin  pain  ;" 
and  he,  conscious  of  a  sacred  and  delicate  mission,  all  unaware 
of  her  secret  love  for  himself,  was  perplexed  how  best  to 
approach  the  subject  and  take  advantage  of  the  opportunity 
so  afforded  him.  At  length 

"I  had  a  letter  from  my  friend  Captain  Travis  to-day,"  he 
began. 

With   little   perceptible   emotion,   she   replied 


342  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

"  Indeed !  I  hope  he  was  in  good  health.  You  are  honoured 
in  your  friendship,  sir.  Mr.  Travis  is  a  noble  gentleman,  and  I 
esteem  him  highly." 

This  paved  the  way  for  him  to  expatiate  on  Ben  Travis's  many 
good  qualities.  He  told  the  story  of  the  big,  raw-boned  youth's 
first  patronage  of  himself,  and  found  an  attentive  listener  as  he 
traced  the  growth  of  their  friendship  upwards,  and  related 
favourable  anecdotes  which  have  no  place  in  this  history.  But 
no  sooner  did  he  begin  to  plead  his  friend's  cause  with  all  the 
warmth  of  young  friendship,  than  her  manner  entirely  changed. 
Her  colour  came  and  went ;  she  panted  as  if  for  breath,  and, 
gasping  out,  "  Oh — h  !  Mr.  Clegg,  for  mercy's  sake,  don't — don't !" 
was  seized  with  a  sudden  faintness  for  the  second  time  that 
day. 

A  lichen-covered  old  tree  trunk,  shattered  and  uptorn  in  the 
late  thunderstorms,  was  at  hand ;  he  seated  her  upon  it, 
bringing  water  to  revive  her  from  a  runnel  near;  but  any 
attempt  to  renew  the  subject  only  seemed  to  give  her  exquisite 
pain,  and  he  desisted  on  her  telling  him,  in  a  suffocating 
voice 

"  Honour  forbids  that  I  should  listen  to  Mr.  Travis  ;  I — I — 
love  another." 

Something  in  her  tone  or  manner  told  him  that  her  love 
was  as  hopeless  as  his  own  for  Augusta,  and  nothing  could  be 
more  respectful  and  gentle  than  his  bearing  towards  her  on  their 
homeward  way,  thus  adding  fuel  to  the  fire  which  consumed 
her. 

The  evening  shadows  were  fast  closing  in  when  they  reached 
the  cottage,  and  she,  with  a  simple  inclination  of  the  head,  left 
Jabez  on  the  threshold,  and,  passing  through  the  parlours,  carried 
her  overmastering  emotions  upwards  to  her  room,  to  be  grappled 
with  in  the  silence  of  the  night. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  343 

"Wheere's  Miss  Ashton?"  asked  Bess.  "  Hoo  said  it  wur 
too  hot  to  bide  i'  th1  heawse,  and  hoo  put  her  irons  deawn,  an' 
after  tittivatin'  herseP  oop  a  bit,  went  eawt  a-seekin'  yo'." 

In  some  surprise,  not  unmixed  with  alarm,  for  the  hour  was 
late — as  times  and  country  went — and  the  harvest  brought  rough 
strangers  into  the  neighbourhood,  Jabez  set  off  at  full  speed 
down  the  avenue,  and  ere  he  had  reached  the  first  brook,  saw 
her  lithe  figure  advancing  buoyantly,  and,  if  his  eyes  and  the 
gathering  mist  did  not  deceive  him,  a  second  figure  parted  from 
her  at  the  gate. 

She  was  the  first  to  speak.  "Whichever  way  did  you  people 
ramble  off?" 

"  Oh !  down  by  the  Goyt,  Taxal  way,  Miss  Ashton,"  answered 
Jabez. 

"  Ah !  and  I  went  up  the  Buxton  Road ;  we  were  certain 
to  miss." 

"  I  thought  I  saw  you  part  from  some  one  at  the  gate  ?  Could 
I  be  mistaken?"  half-questioned  her  interlocutor. 

"Oh,  Crazy  Joe!  that  was  all!"  and  he  took  her  reply  in  all 
sincerity,  not  believing  Augusta  Ashton  capable  of  untruth. 

A  day  or  two  went  by,  during  which  Jabez  wrote  to  tell  Ben 
Travis  he  "  must  arm  himself  with  fortitude " — that  "  the  world 
was  full  of  disappointments" — that  "Miss  Chadwick  loved 
elsewhere" — but  there  was  "something  more  for  men  to  do  than 
die  of  disappointments  or  blighted  love." 

And  yet  another  day  or  two,  during  which  Augusta's  moods 
were  as  variable  as  the  gusty  shadows  of  the  sycamore,  changing 
from  wild  exuberance  which  rallied  Ellen  on  her  depression, 
and  condescended  to  play  or  dance  for  Sim,  to  a  moping,  moody 
melancholy,  enlivened  by  frequent  showers.  She  was  given  to 
snatch  up  her  hat  and  "  run  out  into  the  garden  for  a  breath  of 
fresh  air,"  but  she  generally  came  in  panting,  as  if  the  "run"  had 


344  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

been  literal ;  and  sometimes  she  would  be  found  in  the  house 
when  supposed  out  of  it,  and  vice  versa. 

The  "White  Hart"  had  not  yet  walked  away,  although  Jabez 
considered  it  complete.  It  waited  Mr.  Ashton's  coming  and  his 
verdict,  and  stood  on  the  easel  in  the  dining-room. 

The  morning  post  had  brought  a  message  to  Simon  Clegg 
concerning  fruit  and  vegetables  for  the  Manchester  home,  and 
having  sought  him  in  the  kitchen-garden  to  deliver  it,  Jabez 
entered  the  house  at  dinner-time  by  the  lower  staircase  window 
(frequently  used  for  entrance  and  exit).  His  passage  through  the 
best  parlour  was  arrested  by  voices  in  the  room  beyond,  one  of 
which  he  knew  too  well.  It  was  that  of  Laurence  Aspinall.  His 
painting  was  evidently  under  free  criticism,  and  had  been  for 
some  time.  There  was  some  jesting  at  the  sign-painter. 

"You  see,  Miss  Ashton,  what  a  few  touches  can  effect!" 

The  speaker  had  apparently  made  free  with  Clegg's  colours 
and  brushes,  and  there  was  a  murmured  sound  of  assent  from 
Miss  Ashton. 

"Well,  Barret,  Nee  scire  fas  est  omnia ;  Ne  sutor  idtra  crepidam. 
What  say  you?" 

"  Yes ;  let  the  cobbler  stick  to  his  last.  If  this  Clegg  would 
be  an  artist,  let  him  stick  to  his  brush;  if  a  tradesman,  let  him 
stick  to  his  trade.  If  a  man  means  to  succeed,  he  must  never 
Sirt  with  either  art  or  trade.  It's  just  as  bad  as  wooing  two 
women  at  once." 

Jabez  heard  no  more.  The  blow  which  had  been  aimed  at 
his  art-pretensions  drove  him  back  by  the  way  he  came,  and  he 
paced  the  long  terrace  parallel  with  the  "Lovers'  Walk"  for  fully 
half-an-hour.  When  he  turned  the  corner  of  the  cottage,  and 
went  in  at  the  front  door,  the  critics  were  gone,  but  Aspinall's 
"few  touches"  remained.  They  had  indeed  given  life  to  the  "White 
Hart.'*  Henceforth  the  "cobbler"  resolved  to  "stick  to  his  last." 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  345 

Ellen  Chadwick  had  been  away,  with  little  Sim  by  the  hand, 
to  take  some  substantial  comforts  to  Meg's  bedridden  mother. 
She  appeared  annoyed  when  she  heard  of  their  masculine  visitors 
from  Buxton.  Her  evident  displeasure  set  Jabez  wondering  what 
Travis  meant  by  "  after  what  has  occurred,"  and  he  wrote  that 
afternoon  for  enlightenment,  sending  his  letter  as  a  packet  by 
coach,  there  being  no  second  post. 

It  has  been  said  that  the  cellarage  of  the  cottage  was  only 
accessible  by  flights  of  steps  in  the  portion  of  the  weed-grown 
"  Lovers'  Walk "  which  lay  at  the  windowless  back  of  the  long 
low  building,  where  nettles  grew  so  thick  and  rank  that  even  the 
square  unused  trap  over  one  set  of  steps  was  half  hidden  by 
them.  The  path  was  rarely  used,  the  farmer  having  made  a 
nearer  cut  from  the  farmyard  to  his  ancient  dwelling. 

Tom  Hulme  was  slowly  recovering,  under  the  care  of  a  Buxton 
doctor  who  came  thrice  a  week.  He  could  walk  about  the  garden 
with  a  stick,  but  there  was  no  sending  him  to  the  dark  cellar  for 
anything.  The  doctor  had  ordered  him  port  wine,  and  Bess,  who 
kept  the  key,  had  asked  Mr.  Clegg  to  fetch  a  couple  of  bottles 
from  the  cellar. 

Tea  was  over,  but  he  fancied  there  was  sufficient  light  to  guide 
him  without  a  lantern.  He  had  got  the  wine,  and  was  approaching 
the  cellar  door  at  the  foot  of  the  sunken  steps  when  he  heard  the 
sound  of  voices  coming  along  the  walk  from  the  direction  of 
the  moor. 

Every  pulse  in  his  body  seemed  to  grow  still  as  he  recognised 
the  tones  of  Augusta  Ashton  and  Laurence  Aspinall,  and 
heard  with  deepening  anguish  the  unmistakable  sound  of  kisses 
interchanged.  They  had  apparently  paused  close  to  the  stair- 
head for  that  embrace ;  and  then  he  heard — and  thanked  God 
that  he  was  there  to  hear,  though  that  hearing  blighted  every 
hope  he  had — his  rival,  with  every  argument  which  passionate 


346  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

love  or  skilful  sophistry  could  employ,  persuade  her  to  elope  with 
him  the  following  night. 

Backwards  and  forwards  they  walked  in  the  gathering  dusk, 
but  never  beyond  the  length  of  the  premises  ;  and  now  and  then 
they  stopped,  and  drove  him  mad  with  their  caresses.  The  place 
was  so  retired  and  lonely,  precaution  was  neglected ;  and  Jabez, 
chained  to  the  spot  as  it  were,  gathered  that  proposals  for  her 
hand,  made  by  Laurence  himself,  had  been  peremptorily  rejected 
by  Mr.  Ashton,  who  was  set  down  as  a  despot  and  a  tyrant  for 
refusing  to  surrender  a  silly  girl  of  seventeen  to  a  rake  of  two-and- 
twenty.  He  heard  her  tell  that  Jabez  Clegg  had  found  her  sobbing 
at  the  separation,  even  whilst  her  darling's  letter  was  at  the  gate. 
And  he  heard  it  said  that  the  elder  Aspinall  not  only 
countenanced  this  secret  courtship,  but  had  furnished  funds  for 
the  proposed  elopement.  This  generosity  was  set  against  the 
cruelty  of  her  own  parents  ;  her  affection,  her  pride,  the  romance 
in  her  nature  were  appealed  to,  but  still  Augusta's  better  angel 
held  her  safe,  until,  coward  that  he  was,  Laurence  terrified  her 
with  a  threat  to  "blow  his  brains  out"  if  she  refused  him. 

She  wept  her  assent  upon  his  breast,  and  then  Jabez,  already 
half-stunned,  heard  the  details  of  evidently  previously  concocted 
arrangements  for  their  elopement  and  marriage  at  Gretna  Green, 
professedly  with  his  father's  sanction. 


CHAPTER    THE    THIRTY-SEVENTH. 


A    RIDE     ON     A     RAINY    NIGHT. 

A  B  E  Z,  bottles  in  hand,  his 
mind  a  chaos,  had  walked 
in  at  the  wash  -  kitchen 
door  precisely  as  Augusta, 
^  stealthily  creeping  through 
^  a  gap  in  the  privet  hedge, 
made  her  way  to  the  con- 
venient staircase  window, 
shivering  more  from  fright 
than  from  the  chill  drizzling 
rain  which  had  begun  to 
fall.  Putting  her  head  in 
at  the  parlour-door,  where 
Ellen  was  sewing,  with  a 
brief  "  I'm  off  to  bed,"  she  hurried  upstairs  in  the  dusk  to  lave 
her  flushed  face,  smooth  her  disordered  hair,  crush  it  under  a 
nightcap,  and  place  her  head  on  a  pillow,  to  still  her  heart's 
flutterings  under  the  screening  counterpane,  and  hide  her  emotions 
from  her  cousin  under  the  semblance  of  sleep,  though  sleep  was 
an  absolute  impossibility, 

In  1821  the  village  of  Gretna  Green,  on  the  Scottish  border, 
was  the  general  resort  of  runaway  lovers,  who,  being  in  their 
minority,  could  not  be  married  legally  in  England  without 


A     MIDNIGHT     ALARM, 


348  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

parental  consent,  whereas  in  Caledonia  a  mere  promise  to  marry 
made  in  the  presence  of  witnesses  was  held  binding.  At  Gretna 
a  man  not  in  holy  orders,  but  metaphorically  called  "the 
blacksmith,"  because  he  riveted  the  chains  of  matrimony,  lived  in 
the  first  house  beyond  the  bridge  which  spanned  the  river  Sark, 
and,  with  a  ceremonial  as  unseemly  as  it  was  brief,  married  all 
comers,  often  with  pursuers  at  his  very  doors  ;  and  the  marriages 
so  contracted  were  not  to  be  set  aside.  For  more  than  half  a 
century  Gretna  Green  weddings  had  figured  largely  in  the 
literature  of  the  stage  and  of  the  circulating  library  ;  and  there 
is  no  doubt  that  the  halo  of  romance  thrown  around  an  elope- 
ment to  Gretna  blinded  to  the  impropriety  of  the  prenuptial 
flight  many  a  foolish  or  headstrong  girl  whom  the  actual  ceremony 
shocked  and  startled. 

Augusta  Ashton,  with  all  her  sentimental  romance,  all  her 
petulant  wilfulness,  all  her  resentment  at  being  exiled  from  home 
and  her  Adonis,  yet  loved  her  parents  well,  although  her  reverence 
and  filial  obedience  had  been  gradually  undermined  by  the 
plausible  sophistry  and  impassioned  eloquence  of  her  ardent 
lover.  But  if  she  loved  them  much,  she  unfortunately,  loved 
Laurence  more.  He  was,  to  do  him  justice,  terribly  in  earnest ; 
and  in  the  inexperience  of  her  seventeen  years  she  could  not  be 
expected  to  sift  and  analyse  that  passionate  earnestness  for  its 
many  components.  With  her  all  was  love,  and  love  was  all. 

His  proposition  had,  nevertheless,  come  upon  her  with  a  shock. 
She  was  not  prepared  to  ignore  the  prudent  teaching  of  her 
mother,  or  to  brave  the  indignation  of  her  indulgent  father,  or 
to  forfeit  her  own  self-respect,  and  nothing  could  have  moved 
her  to  consent  but  that  appalling  threat  of  suicide,  and  he  knew 
her  tender  heart  well  when  he  made  it? 

But  neither  that  threat  nor  her  promise  could  reconcile  her  to 
the  rash  step,  and  she  lay  in  bed  shuddering  with  her  own  fears, 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  349 

and,  strangely  enough,  her  first  thought  was — "What  would  Jabez 
say  if  he  knew  it  ? "  Not  her  father,  not  her  mother,  but  the 
Jabez  whom  she  had  rebuffed  only  a  week  before,  yet  of  whose 
opinion  she  somehow  slood  more  in  awe  than  of  all  else 
besides. 

What  did  Jabez  think,  seeing  that  he  did  know  ?  Think  ? 
He  scarcely  could  think.  Feeling  seemed  to  overpower  thought, 
reason,  perception.  When  after  a  stagnant  time  he  emerged  from 
the  stairhead,  it  was  more  as  a  culprit  than  Jabez  Clegg.  He 
put  down  the  bottles  and  escaped  again  into  the  open  air,  cowed 
alike  by  the  knowledge  which  had  overpowered  him,  and  by  a 
sense  oi  dishonour  at  having  played  the  unworthy  part  of  a 
listener,  albeit  the  listening  had  been  involuntary,  seeing  that  the 
shock  of  his  discovery  had  stunned  him  like  a  blow  from  a 
sledge-hammer,  crushing  his  own  long-cherished  hopes  to  death. 
His  next  thought  was  of  intense  thankfulness  that  by  any  means 
the  schemes  of  Aspinall  had  been  bared  to  him,  and  in  time  to 
attempt  the  rescue  of  his  idolised  Augusta  from  the  clutches  of 
a  villain. 

Unacquainted  with  the  events  which  had  preceded  Augusta's 
removal  to  Carr — unaware  that  the  Mosley  Street  doors  had  been 
closed  against  Laurence,  or  that  a  formal  proposal  for  the  young 
lady's  hand  had  been  made  by  the  elder  Aspinall  on  behalf  of 
his  son,  and  peremptorily  declined  by  the  Ashtons ;  ignorant 
that  imperious  Mr.  Aspinall,  in  his  gouty  wrath,  had  sworn 
"  upon  his  honour "  that  his  son  should  "  marry  the  girl  in  spite 
of  the  paltry  beggars'-inkle-weaver,"  and  having  no  faith  in  the 
man  himself,  Jabez  regarded  the  use  of  the  father's  name  only 
as  a  proof  of  his  greater  perfidy,  and  gave  him  no  credit  even 
for  an  honourable  intention  or  an  honest  emotion.  The  time  was 
past  for  Clegg  to  find  excuses  for  the  wrong-doing  of  his 
adversary 


350  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Now,  with  every  nerve  unstrung,  he  was  required  to  act,  and 
that  promptly.  To-morrow  would  be  too  late.  What  if  he  should 
take  Miss  Chadwick  into  his  confidence?  But  no,  he  could  not 
lower  Augusta  in  the  eyes  even  of  her  own  cousin ;  and  neither 
she  nor  anyone  there  had  authority  to  detain  Miss  Ashton 
against  her  will  even  if  her  foot  were  on  the  step  of  the  post- 
chaise.  It  was  imperative  that  he  should  reach  Manchester 
immediately,  yet  how  to  do  so  without  exciting  alarm  perplexed 
him.  There  was  a  horse  in  the  stable  at  the  mill,  but  as  he 
had  a  bed  in  Simon's  room,  and  could  neither  leave  it  nor  return 
to  it  in  the  night  without  passing  through  the  Hulmes'  sleeping 
apartment,  there  was  a  difficulty  in  quitting  the  house  un- 
known. 

"I  must  be  at  the  mill  before  daybreak  to-morrow,  having 
something  of  importance  to  attend  to,  so  I  will  sleep  on  the 
squab  in  the  house-place,  Mrs.  Hulme.  If  I  am  not  in  for 
breakfast,  do  not  wait  for  me,"  said  he ;  and  no  one  questioned 
him,  although  Mrs.  Hulme  and  her  husband  were  of  joint  opinion 
that  "Jabez  looked  terribly  put  eawt,"  and  wondered  what  business 
he  could  have  on  hand  of  so  much  consequence. 

No  one  thought  of  locking  country  cottage  doors.  By  nine 
o'clock  all  the  inmates  were  in  bed  and  asleep.  Before  ten 
Jabez,  sad  at  heart,  had  quietly  left  the  cottage  for  the  mill, 
had  saddled  Peveril,  and,  though  no  great  horseman,  was  speeding 
past  the  "White  Hart"  along  the  highway  to  Manchester,  fast 
as  the  steady-going  roadster  would  travel.  The  wind  had  risen, 
and  the  rain  came  down  persistently ;  but,  heedless  of  discomfort 
or  danger,  with  the  one  thought  paramount  in  his  mind — the 
preservation  of  his  master's  daughter — he  set  his  teeth  and  rode 
on  with  feverish  impatience,  which  at  length  communicated  itself 
to  Peveril,  and  quickened  the  beat  of  the  sensible  animal's  hoof; 
impatience  which  would  have  sent  him  flying  over  the  toll-gates, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN,  351 

had  either  he  or  his  steed  been  equal  to  the  exploit,  and  which 
could  barely  brook  the  delay  of  drowsy  tollkeepers. 

Nevertheless  as  he  turned  from  Piccadilly  into  Mosley  Street, 
the  muffled-up  old  watchman,  catching  the  echoes  of  the 
Infirmary  clock,  bawled  out,  to  mark  his  own  vigilance,  "Just 
one  o'clock,  an'  a  dark,  rainy  neet!"  and  the  Ashton  household 
had  closed  its  eyelids  and  its  account  with  the  day  at  least  a 
couple  of  hours. 

It  is  never  pleasant  to  be  the  bearer  of  ill-tidings,  so  no 
wonder  Jabez  hesitated  with  the  lion-headed  knocker  in  his  hand 
ere  he  sent  its  reverberations  growling  through  the  silent  house. 
His  hesitation  must  have  influenced  the  knocker,  for  the  lion  had 
to  roar  again,  and  louder,  before  he  heard  the  window  above 
unclose,  and  saw  Mr.  Ashton's  night-capped  head  thrust  out,  to 
ask,  in  alarm,  "Who's  there?  What's  the  matter?" 

Jabez  stepped  back  to  the  kerbstone  to  let  the  dull  rays  of 
an  oil  lamp  fall  upon  his  face. 

"  It  is  I,  Jabez  Clegg,  sir  ;  I  have  a  matter  of  importance  to 
communicate." 

"  Good  heavens,  Clegg,  you !  Surely  the  mill's  not  been 
burned  down?" 

"  No,  sir,  all's  right  at  the  factory.  There's  no  harm  done 
anywhere  at  present.  If  you  will  please  to  come  down,  I  hope 
there  may  be  time  to  prevent  that  which  is  threatened." 

"  Just  so ;    I'll   be   down   directly." 

There  were  no  lucifer  matches  with  which  to  procure 
instantaneous  light,  but  during  this  brief  colloquy  Mrs.  Ashton 
had  been  groping  on  the  tall  chimney-piece  for  their  precusors, 
the  Prometheans,  and  having  found  them,  by  dipping  a  -small 
chemically  prepared  match  into  a  tiny  bottle  of  fluid,  she 
obtained  a  light  as  soon  as  the  window  was  closed  and  the 
draught  shut  out, 


352  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Too  uneasy  to  waste  much  time  in  dressing,  before  many 
minutes  had  flown  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Ashton,  whose  fears  had 
equally  pointed  to  their  daughter — the  one  in  a  roquelaire,  and 
the  other  in  her  warehouse  overall — were  both  listening  with 
agitated  and  anxious  faces  to  Mr.  Clegg's  communication,  made 
with  a  discomposure  great  as  their  own. 

"  Elope  !"    both  parents  exclaimed,   simultaneously. 

"Elope!"  reiterated  the  mother.  "Our  daughter  consent  to 
elope,  and  with  a  reprobate  like  him  ?  It  is  not  possible ! " 

"  So  I  should  have  said,  madam,  yesterday,"  rejoined  Jabcz, 
sadly,  as  he  sank  on  a  chair,  overpowered  more  by  the  strain  on 
his  feelings  than  by  the  fatigue  of  his  long,  wet,  midnight  ride, 
"  and  I  would  have  given  the  world  to  have  been  able  to  doubt 
the  evidence  of  my  own  ears." 

Mrs.  Ashton,  with  clasped  hands  up,  sat  opposite  to  Jabez ; 
Mr.  Ashton,  lacking  the  consolation  and  inspiration  of  his  snuff- 
box, walked  about  the  room  with  one  hand  to  his  head  in  a 
state  of  distressing  perturbation.  He  stopped  in  his  walk  to 
ask,  "What's  to  be  done?"  as  Jabez  made  this  declaration, 
unconscious  of  its  force. 

The  light  of  the  chamber  candle  fell  upon  the  haggard  face 
and  drenched  garments  of  the  young  man.  The  elder  one 
looked  full  at  him,  paused,  then  drawing  near  and  laying  his 
right  hand  heavily  on  the  other's  wet  shoulder,  asked  in  a 
troubled  voice,  with  an  inquisitorial,  but  not  unkind  manner 

"My  lad,  did  no  other  motive  than  duty  to  your  employers 
bring  you  eighteen  miles  through  the  rain  this  dark  night  to 
save  Miss  Ashton  from  an  imprudent  marriage?" 

Jabez  had  not  stopped  to  analyse  his  own  motives.  Thus 
questioned,  it  was  not  without  embarrassment  that  he  answered, 
"Mrs.  Ashton  desired  me,  sir,  to  watch  over  Miss  Ashton,  and 
acquaint  you  with  any  matter  affecting  her  welfare.  But  apart 


THB    MANCHESTER    MAN.  353 

from  that,  sir,  I  could  not  see  Miss  Ashton  in  the  toils  of  a 
libertine  without  an  attempt  to  rescue  her.  I  should  have  been 
a  dastard  to  sit  passive,  and  even  now  I  feel  we  are  losing 
time." 

"Just  so,  just  so,"  assented  Mr.  Ashton.  "That  reminds  me, 
Peveril  is  in  the  street,  and  you  are  soaked  to  the  skin.  My 
dear" — turning  to  his  wife — "will  you  arouse  the  servants,  and 
see  that  neither  horse  nor  rider  suffers  in  our  service  more  than 
we  can  help  ?" 

Having  thus  got  rid  of  his  wife,  of  whom  he  stood  somewhat 
in  awe,  he  resumed  his  searching  catechism  of  Jabez. 

"And  so,  Clegg,  you  have  no  motive  beyond  a  chivalrous 
desire  to  save  your  master's  daughter,  no  interest  to  serve  beyond 
your  duty  to  us?" 

The  ordeal  was  terrible.  Jabez  rose,  his  features  working 
convulsively. 

"Mr.  Ashton,  you  are  torturing  me.  Humble  as  I  am,  I 
love  Miss  Ashton  with  my  whole  life  and  soul.  But  knowing 
the  distance  between  us,  I  have  striven  to  keep  the  secret  in 
my  own  breast.  And  I  protest  I  had  no  double  motive  in  my 
journey  hither." 

The  genial  smallware  manufacturer,  to  whom  that  night  had 
brought  two  revelations,  looked  Jabez  steadfastly  in  the  face  as 
he  made  his  avowal ;  then,  taking  him  kindly  by  the  hand, 
said — his  eyes  swimming 

"  Just  so,  just  so,  my  lad !  I  believe  you.  And,  Jabez 
Clegg,  let  me  tell  you  that  I  would  rather  give  my  daughter 
to  an  upright,  persevering  man  like  you,  without  a  penny,  than 
to  a  spendthrift  like  Laurence  Aspinall,  though  he  rolled  in  riches. 
But  it  is  no  use  saying  that  now? 

Indeed  there  was  no  use,  and  time  was  flying.  A  glance  of 
grateful  attachment,  and  a  mute  pressure  of  his  liberal  master's 

AA 


354 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


hand,  were  the  sole  acknowledgment  of  Jabez.  But  a  new  bond 
was  established  between  the  twain. 

Mrs.  Ashton  had  come  back  to  discuss  with  her  husband  and 
Jabez  the  best  mode  of  procedure.  She  was  not  less  shrewd 
than  her  lord,  and  had  not  failed  to  perceive  that  the  young 
man's  heart  was  in  the  service  he  now  rendered  them.  The  blow 
dealt  by  Augusta  to  her  pride  dashed  down  the  impalpable 
barrier  between  them  and  she  took  counsel  with  him  as  a  tried 
and  true  friend. 

Mr.  Clegg  pointed  out  the  necessity  for  his  return  to  the  mill 
before  it  should  open,  and  he  be  missed ;  and  taking  a  proffered 
glass  of  brandy  and  water  to  avert  cold,  he  hurried,  whilst  hot 
coffee  was  preparing,  to  change  his  soaked  garments  preparatory 
to  the  ride  back;  his  elders  also  taking  the  opportunity  to  dress 
and  prepare  for  departure  with  the  morning  coach. 

Not  a  moment  was  wasted,  but  though  Peveril  had  been  well 
groomed  and  fed,  he  was  not  so  fresh  to  the  road  as  he  had 
been  ;  still  the  journey  was  homeward,  the  rain  had  abated ;  day 
began  to  dawn  as  he  left  Stockport  behind,  and  without  much 
use  of  the  whip,  Jabez  had  his  horse  back  in  the  stable  before 
the  factory  bell  began  to  ring.  And  then  the  beast  was  allowed 
to  rest.  The  jaded  man  had  to  rouse  himself  to  another  day's 
work,  another  day's  trial  and  excitement,  without  a  moment  for 
repose. 

To  everybody's  astonishment,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Ashton  stepped 
out  of  the  "  Lord  Nelson  "  coach  that  morning  at  the  bottom  of 
the  avenue,  with  a  carpet-bag  for  luggage.  The  difference  of 
their  reception  by  daughter  and  niece  was  palpable,  and  they 
could  not  fail  to  observe  how  much  the  former  was  disconcerted 
by  their  arrival. 

"Oh,  aunt  and  uncle,  this  is  a  pleasant  surprise!"  exclaimed 
Ellen,  running  down  the  avenue  to  meet  them. 


TKB    MANCHESTER    MAN.  355 

"  You  do  not  appear  very  well  pleased  to  see  us,  Augusta," 
remarked  Mrs.  Ashton,  as  she  met  her  lazily  sauntering  through 
the  garden  towards  them,  as  captivating  in  her  printed  morning 
dress  as  a  sleepless  night,  an  anxions  headache,  and  her  unmis- 
takable confusion  would  permit  the  recognised  beauty  to  be. 

"  Oh,  yes,  I  am  pleased  enough,  but  I  should  have  been  better 
pleased  if  you  had  written  instead  of  coming  upon  one  so 
suddenly.  It  is  quite  startling!"  and  the  petulance  of  her  tone 
gave  effect  to  the  pettish  frown  on  her  brow. 

"My  dear,  ill  thoughts  make  ill  looks,"  said  Mrs.  Ashton, 
gravely,  with  a  searching  glance.  "What  is  the  matter  with  you 
this  morning  ?  Nothing  serious,  I  hope." 

The  very  inquiry  apparently  annoyed  her. 

"Oh,  I've  got  a  headache,  that's  all.  I  heard  a  man's  foot 
on  the  gravel-walk  long  after  everyone  was  in  bed,  and  I  got 
a  fright." 

"I  think  it  was  only  Crazy  Joe — he  hangs  about  at  all  hours," 
put  in  Ellen,  who  had  not  heard  the  crunch  of  Mr.  Clegg's  heel 
on  the  gravel,  as  he  stood  for  a  moment  under  their  window,  to 
breathe  a  prayer  for  the  safety  and  well-being  of  the  supposed 
sleeper,  before  he  turned  away  swiftly  on  his  errand. 

Almost  Mr.  Ashton's  first  inquiry  was  for  Mr.  Clegg. 
"  He's  at  the   mill,  sir.     He  was  off  afore  any  on  us  was  up ; 
an'  he  said  happen  he  mightna  git  whome  fur  breakfast,  he  wur 
so  busy,"  was  the  reply  of  Bess. 

But  Mr.  Ashton,  setting  off  towards  the  factory,  encountered 
Jabez  on  the  way,  and  they  returned  together  to  breakfast,  as  if 
they  had  met  for  the  first  time  that  morning.  On  Mrs.  Ashton's 
suggestion,  Augusta  was  neither  questioned  nor  accused. 

"  We  should  only  tempt  her  to  deny,  and  perhaps  provoke 
ill-will  towards  our  informant,  with  no  good  end,"  she  said.  "  Better 
wait  and  ascertain  beyond  question  what  her  intentions  are," 


356  THE   MANCHESTER  MAN. 

Jabez  would  fain  have  spared  her  the  pain  and  shame  of 
exposure,  but  the  matter  was  out  of  his  hands. 

The  day  passed  unmarked  save  by  Augusta's  restless  look-out 
for  Crazy  Joe,  and  the  way  she  hung  about  her  mother,  as  if 
half  afraid  of  the  rash  step  she  contemplated. 

Mr.  Ashton  meanwhile,  to  cover  his  distress  and  agitation, 
busied  himself  about  the  transfer  of  the  "White  Hart"  (which  he 
pronounced  "  admirable ")  to  its  place  over  the  inn-door,  and 
managed  to  elicit  from  Chapman,  the  gossiping  landlord,  without 
direct  inquiry,  that  a  fine  young  spark  in  hunting  gear  had  put 
up  his  horse  there  several  times  within  the  past  week,  and  was 
ike  to  make  the  fortune  of  Crazy  Joe,  he  gave  the  poor  softy 
so  many  half-crowns;  but  Joe  was  "deep,  and  never  let  on 
what  he  got  them  for." 


CHAPTER   THE    THIRTY-EIGHTH. 


DEFEATED. 


ATTEMPTED    PLIGHT. 


which 


'.  ABEZ  CLEGG  and  the 
young  ladies  occupied  ad- 
joining chambers  (the  two 
inner  rooms  of  the  suite), 
but  the  door  of  communi- 
cation was  locked,  and 
they  were  attained  by 
different  staircases.  Thus, 
as  he  was  compelled  to 
pass  through  the  Hulmes' 
sleeping  apartment,  so 
Ellen  and  Augusta  were 
constrained  to  go  back- 
wards and  forwards  through 
that  of  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
long  use  had  probably 


Ashton — an     arrangement    to 
reconciled   them. 

It  was  this  fact  which  had  so  much  disconcerted  Augusta, 
since  she  foresaw  a  difficulty  in  escaping  unheard  ;  and  not 
meeting  with  Joe  (that  most  unpromising  of  Cupids),  she  was  as 
equally  unable  to  convey  a  message  to  her  expectant  lover. 
She  repented  her  rash  promise,  and  would  fain  have  availed 
herself  of  a  pretext  for  delay,  but  the  night  came,  and,  haunted 


358  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

by  imaginary  pictures  of  Laurence  with  a  pistol  to  his  head,  she 
dared  not  disappoint  him.  She  had  promised  to  meet  him  at 
that  entrance  of  the  Lovers'  Walk  which  opened  below  Yeardsley 
Hall  Farm  into  Moor  Lane,  whilst,  the  lane  being  a  steep 
declivity,  he  was  to  keep  the  post-chaise  in  waiting  at  the 
foot. 

Her  headache  served  as  an  excuse  for  retiring  to  bed  earlier 
than  her  cousin,  and  scarcely  could  her  father  and  mother 
restrain  themselves  as  she  kissed  them  lingeringly  before  she 
went.  Indeed,  Mr.  Ashton  would  much  have  preferred  to  "have 
it  out  with  the  girl  at  once,  and  have  done  with  it,"  there  not 
being  much  "  waiting "  blood  in  his  veins. 

He  had  kept  out  of  her  sight  most  of  the  day,  fidgeting  over 
one  thing  and  another,  whilst  his  waistcoat  and  shirt-frill  bore 
testimony  to  the  constant  raid  on  his  snuff-box. 

"  I  don't  like  to  see  my  poor  lass  trapped  like  a  bird  in  a 
cage,"  he  said  in  confidence  to  Jabez,  whose  opinion  he  already 
knew  agreed  with  his  own,  as  did  the  desire  to  "thrash  the 
infernal  scoundrel  within  an  inch  of  his  life." 

The  last  straw  had  broken  the  camel's  back,  and  Jabez  was 
no  longer  inclined  to  be  passive. 

Laurence  had  bid  Augusta  take  no  care  for  her  wardrobe ; 
his  purse  was  ample,  and  he  would  dress  her  like  a  queen  if  she 
would  only  consent  to  fly  with  him.  So,  after  collecting  a  few 
immediate  necessaries  and  trinkets,  and  placing  the  reticule  which 
contained  them  out  of  sight,  she  crept  into  bed,  to  lie  and  listen 
for  the  household  to  follow  her  example.  How  lazily  the  hours 
lagged  !  She  heard  old  Simon  shuffling  about,  and  the  creaking 
of  his  camp-bedstead  as  he  settled  his  old  rheumatic  bones  for 
the  night,  but  the  firm  foot  of  Jabez  she  did  not  hear,  though 
the  house  clock  struck  nine,  and  Ellen  came  up  with  the  last 
stroke. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  359 

In  answer  to  a  question,  Ellen  said  that  Mr.  Clegg  was  asleep 
on  the  squab,  and  that  she  understood  he  had  slept  there  the 
previous  night,  to  be  able  to  go  to  the  mill  very  early  without 
disturbing  anyone  else. 

"  I  saw  him  as  he  lay  there,  where  he  had  fallen  asleep 
shortly  after  tea,  and  I  have  been  speaking  to  my  uncle  about 
him  ;  he  looks  so  dreadfully  worn  and  jaded,  I  am  sure  he  is 
either  killing  himself  with  overwork  or  has  some  great  trouble 
on  his  mind,"  and  a  deep  sigh  followed  this  expression  of  opinion. 

Augusta  was  silent.  Something  within  her  secret  heart 
whispered  that  the  trouble  of  Jabez  Clegg  would  be  intensified 
sevenfold  by  her  act  of  that  night,  and,  haughty  as  she  was 
betimes,  she  pitied  him.  And  whatever  were  her  compunctions, 
fears,  or  emotions,  Jabez  certainly  shared  with  her  parents  in 
her  thoughts. 

Ellen  slept.  The  clock  struck  ten.  Father  and  mother 
entered  their  room,  and  through  the  door  which  Augusta  had 
artfully  requested  Ellen  to  "  leave  open  on  account  of  the  heat " 
came  the  sound  of  their  voices  in  low  but  earnest  converse — 
"You  leave  her  to  me,  William,"  spoken  with  decision,  being 
the  only  words  she  could  distinguish,  though  she  heard  her 
father  walk  about  for  some  time.  Indeed,  she  thought  he  would 
never  go  to  bed. 

Eleven !  She  slipped  stealthily  from  the  side  of  her  sleeping 
cousin,  and  by  the  light  of  the  moon,  clear  enough  to-night, 
dressed  as  noiselessly  and  rapidly  as  her  trepidation  would 
permit.  From  habit  she  knelt  to  pray,  but  as  she  came  to  the 
passage,  "  Lead  us  not  into  temptation,  but  deliver  us  from  evil," 
a  new  meaning  seemed  to  flash  through  the  words,  and  she 
half  wavered  in  her  purpose. 

"  Poor  Jabez ! "  she  murmured  to  herself,  as  she  caught  up 
her  shoes  and  reticule,  and  listened  in  the  open  doorway  for 


360  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

the  deep  breathing  which  came  from  behind  the  dimity  curtains 
of  the  four-post  bed.  Re-assured,  she  stepped  lightly  across  the 
room  in  her  stocking-feet,  turned  the  drop-handle  of  that  chamber 
door  as  silently  as  the  squeaking  latch  would  permit,  and  fled 
swiftly  down  the  stairs,  sitting  down  at  the  bottom  to  put  on 
her  shoes. 

She  had  raised  the  sash,  and  was  in  the  very  act  of  stepping 
over  the  low  window-sill,  when  a  foot  was  heard  on  the  stair, 
and,  turning  her  head,  she  saw  her  mother  fully  dressed, 
close  by  her  side,  and  felt  her  slight  wrist  grasped  as  in  a 
vice. 

"  Is  this  your  filial  love  and  obedience,  misguided  girl  ?  Is 
this  the  result  of  Madame  Broadbent's  training  ?  Have  you  no 
more  sense  of  honour  and  decency  than  to  elope  at  midnight 
with  any  man,  least  of  all  with  the  worthless  reprobate  who 
has  caught  your  silly  fancy  ?  Could  you  not  think  that  chastity 
is  the  brightest  jewel  in  a  woman's  crown,  and  the  soonest 
dimmed,  that  you  were  ready  to  leave  your  character  at  the 
mercy  of  every  gossip  who  had  a  tongue  to  wag  ? " 

She  had  drawn  Augusta,  too  much  stunned  to  speak,  into  the 
parlour  close  at  hand,  and  had  shut  the  doors — a  needless 
precaution,  seeing  how  remote  were  all  sleepers.  A  few  words 
of  gentle  motherly  inquiry  might  have  softened  impulsive,  tender- 
hearted Augusta  to  tears,  and  turned  the  whole  current  of  her 
life ;  but  Mrs.  Ashton's  stateliness  had  become  sternness,  and, 
fresh  from  the  evil  teaching  of  Laurence  Aspinall,  her  daughter's 
proud  spirit  rose  in  rebellion,  and  answered  her. 

"We  are  going  to  be  married.  And  I  was  not  going  with 
Laurence  alone.  Cicily  was  to  travel  with  us.  Laurence  himself 
proposed  it." 

"  Infatuated  girl ! "  exclaimed  Mrs.  Ashton,  "  Cicily  was  in 
Mosley  Street  last  night." 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  361 

"  And  so  were  you,  mother,"  was  the  smart  retort,  "  but  the 
coach  which  dropped  you  here  carried  her  to  Buxton.  Outside 
passengers  were  muffled  up,  but  she  waved  her  handkerchief  as 
she  passed,  as  a  sign  to  me." 

"  Sign  to  you,  indeed !  I  marvel  you  are  not  ashamed  of 
yourself  and  your  hero,  who  is  not  content  with  corrupting  my 
daughter,  but  must  corrupt  our  servants  also !  A  fine  hero  indeed, 
whose  qualifications  are  all  external !  I  cannot  see  what  there  is 
to  admire  in  him." 

"  Not  see  what  there  is  to  admire  in  that  exquisite  figure  and 
beautiful  face  ?  Why,  I  shall  be  the  envy  of  half  the  girls  in 
Manchester  when  I  marry  him  ! "  Augusta  exclaimed,  with  anything 
but  the  air  of  a  culprit  just  detected. 

"But  you  are  not  likely  to  marry  him,  you  forward  chit. 
You  go  back  to  Manchester  to-morrow,  and  I  will  take  good 
care  you  don't  marry  either  clandestinely  or  openly  a  man  so 
sure  to  make  your  heart  ache,  if  he  were  thrice  as  hand- 
some !" 

"  But  I  WILL  marry  him,  mamma — Vll  please  my  eye,  if  1 
plague  my  heart !" 

"  Then  as  you  make  your  bed,  so  must  you  lie,  miss"  answered 
Mrs.  Ashton,  gravely  and  deliberately.  "  But  take  my  word  for 
it,  neither  your  papa  nor  myself  will  give  our  consent.  And  now 
go  to  your  room,  Augusta,  and  thank  God  you  have  been  saved 
from  disgrace  this  night,  and  thank  us  that  we  have  kept  you 
from  open  exposure.  Not  even  your  cousin  has  a  notion  of  this 
last  folly.  Our  daughter's  honour  is  dearer  to  us  than  to  herself," 
and  the  mother's  tone  softened  as  she  spoke. 

"Your  daughter's  honour  has  never  been  in  any  danger,"  said 
Augusta,  haughtily,  as  she  swept  from  the  room,  to  encounter  at 
the  foot  of  the  stairs,  flooded  by  moonlight  through  the  open 
window,  her  father — and  Jabez. 


362  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Up  to  that  moment  she  had  stood  on  the  defensive,  her 
wayward  spirit  upholding  and  arming  her  for  retort.  The  sight  of 
the  father  who  had  indulged  her  every  whim,  and  of  Jabez,  whose 
esteem  she  valued  more  than  she  herself  knew,  gave  a  sudden 
shock  to  her  overwrought  nerves,  and  she  fell  forward  into  the 
arms  of  Jabez  in  a  deep  swoon. 

Tenderly,  respectfully,  sadly,  he  bore  her  into  the  parlour,  and 
placing  her  on  the  sofa,  relinquished  her  to  her  mother,  divesting 
himself  of  his  shoes  in  order  to  procure  water  to  restore  her 
without  creating  alarm. 

When  she  recovered  he  was  gone ;  she  was  alone  with  the 
parents  whose  counsels  she  had  despised,  whose  love  she  had 
wounded ;  herself  detected  and  humiliated. 

A  greater  humiliation  had  fallen  to  the  lot  of  elate,  enamoured, 
and  self-satisfied  Laurence  Aspinall,  when,  leaving  his  friend 
Barret  with  the  post-chaise,  their  saddle-horses,  and  Cicily  at 
the  bottom  of  Moor  Lane,  he  mounted  the  hill  and  whistled 
softly  at  the  entrance  of  the  Lovers'  Walk,  to  call  forth — 
not  a  blushing  maiden,  half  afraid  of  her  own  temerity,  but — two 
justly  incensed  and  indignant  men.  His  low-voiced  "Augusta — " 
died  upon  his  lips  ;  he  recoiled,  stammered — 

"  You  !     I — I    did    not    expect D — nation  !     What   brought 

you   here?     I   thought " 

"Just  so,  you  atrocious  scoundrel,  you  thought  God  had  left 
our  pet  lamb  to  the  fangs  of  the  wolf,  and  that  neither  father 
nor  friend  was  near  to  protect  the  innocent ! "  exclaimed  Mr. 
Ashton,  raising  the  stout  bamboo  with  which  he  was  provided. 

"If  that   infernal  Cicily  has   betrayed  us,   I'll " 

The  threat  was  not  completed,  for  Jabez  interrupted  him 
with — 

"  No,  sir,  it  was  not  Cicily.  You  betrayed  yourself.  You 
laid  bare  your  whole  scheme  in  this  walk  within  my  hearing, 


THE    MIDNIGHT    STRUGGLE. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  363 

Mr.  Laurence  Aspinall,  and  the  sophistry  which  misled  a 
simple,  confiding  girl  could  not  delude  one  who  knew  you  as  I 
do." 

"  D — nation  ! "  hissed  Laurence  between  his  teeth.  "  You 
infernal  charity-school  whelp !  Am  I  to  meet  you  at  every  turn  ? 
I  suppose  you  want  Miss  Ashton  for  yourself,  but  I'll  baulk 
you  yet ! "  and,  but  that  Jabez  had  a  quick  eye  and  hand,  his 
riding-whip  would  have  seamed  the  latter's  manly  face. 

Jabez  dexterously  caught  the  light  whip,  and  wrenched  it 
from  him,  a  simultaneous  sharp  blow  of  Mr.  Ashton's  bamboo  on 
Aspinall's  shoulders  tending  to  loosen  his  grasp.  And  then  the 
two  young  men,  with  all  the  fever  of  jealousy  added  to  old 
animosity,  closed  and  grappled  with  each  other  as  might  a  lion 
and  a  tiger  in  the  arena.  And  Mr.  Ashton,  his  love  of  fair  play 
yielding  to  his  exasperation,  made  good  use  of  his  bamboo 
whenever  he  could  deal  a  blow  without  harming  Jabez. 

The  two  combatants  were  not  unequally  matched  ;  there  was 
little  difference  in  size  and  weight,  but  the  scientific  skill  of 
Laurence  had  more  than  a  counterpoise  in  the  nerve  and 
muscle  of  Jabez,  strengthened  by  exercise  and  a  temperate  life, 
whilst  vicious  courses  had  somewhat  impaired  his  own  athletic 
frame. 

The  struggle  on  the  steep  hill-side  was  too  deadly  for  noise. 
At  length  Laurence — himself  booted  and  spurred — in  striving  to 
take  an  unfair  advantage  and  rip  the  unprotected  calves  of  Jabez 
with  the  rowels  of  his  spurs,  lost  his  foothold,  and  was  borne 
to  the  earth,  falling  heavily.  He  lay  on  the  ground  stunned  and 
motionless.  At  once  Jabez,  with  a  swift  revulsion  of  feeling, 
knelt  down  by  the  side  of  his  prostrate  foe,  and  raised  his  head, 
Mr.  Ashton  bending  over  them  inquiringly,  just  as  Barret,  whom 
curiosity  and  impatience  had  drawn  from  his  post  below,  came 
on  the  scene.  A  stifled  groan,  and  a  muttered  curse,  having 


364  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

assured  Clegg  that  his  rival  was  not  mortally  injured,  he  called 
to  Barret — 

"  Here,  sir,  take  charge  of  your  worthy  principal ;  and  be 
careful,  when  next  you  plan  an  elopement,  that  you  have  not  a 
man  to  deal  with  instead  of  a  credulous  girl." 

Mr.  Ashton's  "  Just  so ! "  coming  sharply  in  as  chorus,  the 
young  man  put  his  arm  in  that  of  the  elder  and  drew  him  away, 
leaving  Barret  and  the  postilion  to  restore  Laurence  Aspinall, 
and  assist  him  into  the  post-chaise  by  the  side  of  Cicily,  whose 
trepidation  would  have  been  very  much  increased  could  she  have 
seen  how  the  blood  was  trickling  down  from  a  wound  in  his 
head,  staining  still  more  the  torn,  miry  coat,  and  the  disordered 
shirt-frill  over  which  he  was  usually  so  fastidious. 

Barret,  leading  his  companion's  horse,  rode  on  in  advance  of 
the  vehicle,  to  prepare  the  pompous  gentleman,  laid  up  with  the 
gout  in  Buxtpn  Crescent,  for  the  reception  of  his  gentlemanly 
son  in  a  highly  gentlemanlike  condition — hatless,  wigless,  dirty, 
dilapidated,  bruised,  bloody — and  unsuccessful.  The  hat  had  rolled 
downhill,  to  be  crushed  under  the  wheels  of  the  chaise;  the  wig 
and  broken  whip  were  found  the  next  morning  by  Crazy  Joe,  who 
exercised  his  witless  head  respecting  them  and  the  trampled  ground 
to  small  purpose ;  then  brought  them  to  his  friend  Sim  as 
playthings.  Had  they  fallen  into  the  hands  of  a  reasoning  mortal, 
much  more  perplexity,  and  a  very  serious  mystery,  might  have 
been  the  result. 

Buxton  being  only  five  miles  from  Whaley  Bridge,  Barret  again 
made  his  appearance  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  "White  Hart," 
whilst  the  new  sign  still  attracted  rustic  admirers;  and,  finding  no 
rumours  current  respecting  the  occurrence  of  the  preceding  night, 
he  rode  off  again,  having  first  committed  to  Crazy  Joe  a  scarcely 
decipherable  missive  from  the  discomfited  lover  to  the  not  less 
disconsolate  damsel. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  365 

The  evening  coach  bore  the  Ashtons  and  Ellen  back  to 
Manchester ;  Augusta,  still  in  a  rebellious  mood,  the  cause  of 
which,  being  hidden  from  her  cousin,  occasioned  the  latter  no  little 
perplexity.  There  was  something,  too,  in  the  manner  of  her 
uncle  and  aunt  to  Jabez,  and  of  Jabez  to  all,  which,  being 
undefmable  and  impalpable,  struck  her  as  peculiar.  He  seemed 
suddenly  to  have  risen  to  another  footing.  How  was  it  they 
had  taken  him  into  their  confidence  ? 

Not  until  the  last  moment — when  attention  was  distracted  by 
the  bustle  at  the  inn-door,  the  disposal  of  the  luggage,  and  the 
taking  of  seats — could  Crazy  Joe  (with  cunning  worthy  a  better 
cause)  contrive  to  slip  the  billet-doux  into  Miss  Ashton's  reticule 
unseen  by  all  but  herself. 

Not  until  she  reached  her  own  room  in  Mosley  Street,  could 
she  scan  its  characteristic  contents,  which  ran  as  follows : — 

"  Crescent,  Buxton, 

"September  ,  1821. 

"Adored  Augusta, 

"Excuse  this  scrawl;  I  can  scarcely  hold  my  pen  in 
consequence  of  a  ruffianly  attack  made  upon  me  by  your  father's 
favourite  factotum,  Jabez  Clegg,  in  Moor  Lane  last  night.  Can 
you  disclose  to  me  the  strange  fatality  which  kept  you  from  my 
expectant  arms,  and  revealed  our  plans  to  that  upstart  foundling? 
Had  not  Mr.  Ashton  also  struck  at  me  with  a  stick,  I  could 
readily  have  disposed  of  his  assistant ;  but  my  foot  tripped  over 
a  stone,  and  falling,  I  lay  at  their  mercy.  Yet,  sweet  Augusta, 
if  my  blood  flowed  it  was  for  thy  sake,  and  for  thy  sake  I 
endure. 

'•Be  constant,  be  firm;  let  no  tyranny  coerce  you,  and  I  will 
make  a  ivay  for  our  union,  if  I  steal  you  from  their  very  midst. 
I  have  a  dislocated  ankle,  a  bruised  and  swollen  hand,  a 
plaistered  crown,  and  I  write  painfully.  I  shall  feel  every  hour 


366 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 


a  year  until  I  hold  you  m  my  arms  again.  But  if  my  angelic 
Augusta  be  only  true  to  fur  promise,  she  will  soon,  in  spite  of 
spies  artii  informers,  be  tfte  adored  wife  of  her 

"Most  devoted 

"  Laurence? 


CHAPTER    THE    THIRTY-NINTH. 

LIKE  FATHER,  LIKE  SON. 

IT  is  no  uncommon  thing  for    a   woman  to  gild  a  block, 
wreathe    it    with    flowers,    and     then     fall    down    and 
worship    the    idol    she    has    adorned.       Augusta's    hero 
needed    no    outward    embellishment,    so    she  fitted  the 
fair  exterior  with  the  perfections  and   virtues  of  the  high-spirited, 
noble,  generous  Mortimers  and  Mowbrays,  whose  acquaintance  she 
had  made  in  print,  and  had  set  him  on  a  very  elevated  pedestal,  in 
spite  of  all  warnings.      With  that    misleading   letter   of  his  before 
her,  no  wonder  if  the  "blood  shed  for  her  sweet  sake"  converted 
the  hero  into  the  martyr,  and  placed  Jabez  and  her  father  in  the 
category  of  cruel  persecutors.     It  did  more,     It  erected  a  barrier 
against    reconciliation.      In   vain    her    placable    father  held   out  a 
flag  of  truce ;    she  kept  aloof   resentfully,    though  in    the  solitude 
of  her  own    chamber   she  gave    way,    and    wept    at  her  isolation 
from  all  who  loved  her. 

Mrs.  Ashton,  whose  sense  of  propriety  had  been  outraged, 
whose  maternal  pride  had  received  a  terrible  shock,  was  less 
readily  disposed  to  condone  her  daughter's  offence;  and,  being  a 
better  business  woman  than  a  psychologist,  her  tactics  showed 
none  of  her  ordinary  shrewdness. 

The  failure  of  Augusta's  banishment  to  Carr  should  have  taught 
her  that  romance  is  nursed  in  solitude,  and  that  conciliation  is 


368  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

better  than  coercion.  Had  she  spared  a  few  hours  from  the 
warehouse  to  arrange  a  dance,  or  a  gipsy -party  to  Dunham  Park; 
chaperoned  her  lovely  daughter  to  assembly,  theatre,  or  concert- 
room  ;  invited  her  companionship  in  a  stroll  through  St.  Ann's 
Square  and  King  Street,  calling  at  Mrs.  Edge's  fashionably- 
frequented  library  by  the  way ;  joined  the  after-morning-church 
promenaders  in  the  Infirmary  Gardens,  or  given  a  little  time  to 
morning  calls,  she  would  have  brought  Augusta  into  contact  with 
young  people  of  her  own  age,  and  with  the  attractive  of  the 
opposite  sex,  and  so  have  supplied  an  antidote  for  the  poison 
Laurence  and  ultra-sentimental  literature  had  instilled. 

Instead,  never  was  the  golden  fruit  of  the  Hesperides  more 
vigilantly  guarded.  She  was  kept  much  within  doors.  There 
was  no  Cicily  to  sympathise  or  convey  clandestine  billet-doux. 
The  modern  notion  that  a  daily  airing  is  indispensable  had  not 
been  promulgated,  or  had  not  become  the  creed  of  the 
manufacturing  community.  Mrs.  Ashton  had  "no  leisure  for 
gadding,"  and  Augusta  cared  little  to  drive  in  the  gig  with  only 
James  for  her  charioteer,  or  even  to  walk  with  Ellen,  so  long 
as  the  mulberry-coloured  livery  was  in  attendance.  (It  might 
have  been  otherwise,  had  not  the  said  James  held  it  as  much 
"  beneath  his  dignity "  to  accept  a  bribe  as  he  had  formerly  done 
to  wait  upon  Mr.  Clegg.)  From  her  old  bedroom,  which 
overlooked  Mosley  Street,  she  was  relegated  to  one  in  the  rear, 
which  commanded  no  wider  prospect  than  their  own  courtyard,  nor 
anything  more  interesting  than  Nelson  and  his  kennel — by-the-bye, 
Nelson  had  been  in  favour  since  the  sad  accident  on  the  ice. 
Then,  visits  to  Marsden  Square  were  prohibited,  lest  she  should 
there  meet  John  Walmsley's  undesirable  friend ;  and,  altogether,  her 
escapade  had  converted  home  into  a  cage,  in  spite  of  its  gilding. 

As  might  have  been  expected,  the  high-spirited  wayward  girl, 
so  long  her  father's  pet,  so  long  indulged  in  her  caprices,  chafed 


f'HB    MANCHESTER    MAN.  369 

and  rebelled  against  every  fresh  token  of  restraint,  and  contrasted 
the  dull  monotony  of  her  life  with  the  freedom  and  gaiety 
promised  so  frequently  by  Laurence  as  the  certain  concomitants 
of  wifehood  with  him. 

With  all  her  haughty  spirit,  she  had  a  clinging,  affectionate 
nature,  tinged  though  it  was  with  poetry  and  romance,  and  now 
that  her  father  looked  so  unusually  grave,  and  her  mother  so 
frigid,  and  she  felt  herself  an  alien  from  both  their  hearts, 
instead  of  bewailing  her  premeditated  flight  as  a  crime,  the 
tendrils  of  her  love  only  clung  closer  to  him  who  professed  so 
much,  and  the  more  she  was  isolated  from  them,  the  more  she 
brooded  on  the  ill-used  and  maligned  Laurence,  his  manly  beauty 
and  accomplishments,  his  lavish  generosity,  his  fascinations  of 
voice  and  manner,  and  the  fervour  of  his  passion  for  her. 

Meanwhile,  Tom  Hulme  had  resumed  his  duties  at  Whaley 
Bridge  Mill,  and  Jabez  returned  home  to  his.  Much  to 
Augusta's  surprise,  he  was  not  only  invited  to  dine  with  them 
on  the  day  of  his  return,  but  to  take  his  place  henceforth  at 
their  board  as  one  of  the  family. 

With  Laurence's  misrepresentations  fixed  in  her  mind  as  truths, 
she  construed  the  daily  association  thus  thrust  upon  her  as  a 
deliberate  affront,  and  resented  it  with  a  silent  scorn  which  cut 
Jabez  to  the  soul.  He  knew  nothing  of  AspinalFs  letter,  or 
that  he  was  accused  of  a  "ruffianly  attack  ;"  he  only  felt  that 
he  would  have  died  to  serve  her,  and  had  done  what  he  had 
to  save  her  from  life-long  misery,  without  a  single  thought  of 
keeping  her  for  himself. 

A  few  more  days,  and  back  to  Manchester  came  Mr.  Aspinall, 
senior,  having  left  a  little  of  his  portliness  with  his  gout  in  the 
Buxton  Baths.  Back  with  him  came  his  son,  and  his  son's 
congenial  companion,  Mr.  Edmund  Barret ;  the  former  still 
smarting  under  his  defeat  at  Carr,  and  all  the  more  resolutely 


370  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

determined  to  carry  off  Augusta,  jealousy  adding  a  new  element 
to  his  love,  a  new  aliment  to  his  hate. 

Sitting  idly  by  the  parlour  window  on  the  third  of  October, 
with  her  head  leaning  against  the  frame,  meditating  on  her  own 
unhappiness  and  her  parents'  harshness,  Augusta  suddenly  started 
to  her  feet  with  a  suppressed  cry  of  delight,  a  vivid  glow  upon 
her  cheeks,  a  brilliant  sparkle  in  her  eye.  Laurence  Aspinall, 
mounted  on  Black  Ralph,  his  favourite  hunter,  was  riding  up  the 
street,  the  dislocated  ankle  apparently  not  affecting  his  enjoyment 
of  equestrian  exercise.  As  he  raised  his  new  beaver  in  graceful 
salutation,  even  the  flutter  into  which  she  was  thrown  could  not 
prevent  her  missing  his  glorious  curls.  He  had  not  deemed  it 
necessary  to  replace  his  wig,  and  the  poll  shorn  during  fever 
_had  not  yet  grown  a  fresh  crop  ripe  for  harvest.  The 
unfavourable  impression  passed  with  the  moment,  as  he  brought 
his  obedient  steed  on  the  flagged  pavement  close  under  the 
window,  and,  without  a  moment's  hesitation,  she  raised  the  sash, 
and  leaned  forward  to  speak  with  him,  glad  of  the  opportunity. 

"Oh,   Laurence!" 

"  My  own   Augusta,   this   is   indeed  fortunate ! " 

Their  hands  clasped  upon  the  window-sill — the  elevation  of 
the  house  raising  her  to  his  level — her  tearful  eyes  looked  up  in 
his  for  traces  of  suffering  after  the  "  ruffianly  attack,"  and  found 
there,  mingled  with  the  fierce  light  of  violent  love,  a  bitter  sense 
of  defeat,  a  resolve  to  obtain  her  by  fair  means  or  foul. 

Each  had  the  separate  experience  of  that  memorable 
September  night  to  relate,  coloured  as  passion  or  prejudice 
prevailed  ;  but  neither  could  fully  enlighten  the  other  as  to  the 
share  Mr.  Clegg  had  had  in  preventing  the  elopement. 

He  could  tell  her  that  Jabez  had  avowed  overhearing  their 
conversation  in  the  Lovers'  Walk,  though  where  he  could  have 
been  to  overhear,  or  what  strange  fatality  could  bring  Mr.  and 


MANCHESTER    MAN.  371 

Mrs.    Ashton   to    Carr   in    time   to    become    the    recipients    of  his 
eavesdropping  and  defeat  their  plans,  was  a  puzzle  to  both. 

Be  sure  Laurence  put  the  worst  colour  on  the  encounter  in  the 
lane,  and  urged  all  he  had  himself  endured  to  strengthen  his 
claims  upon  her — claims  she  was  quite  willing  to  admit,  had  she 
the  power  to  concede  to  them. 

Having  shown  with  very  evident  annoyance,  how  impossible 
it  was  for  her  to  meet  or  give  him  a  private  interview,  he 
exclaimed  with  indignation — 

"  What !  not  allowed  to  visit  a  relation,  or  to  go  abroad 
without  a  gaoler !  My  dearest  Augusta,  this  is  a  cruel  state  of 
captivity.  But  my  bird  must  not  be  allowed  to  fray  her  beautiful 
plumage  in  beating  against  the  bars  of  her  cage.  I  must  devise 
a  better  plan  for  her  escape.  Any  means  are  justifiable  to  obtain 
release  from  tyranny'  like  this.  What  says  my  love?  Is  she  still 
willing  to  trust  her  Laurence  ? " 

"  To   the  death ! "   she   whispered,  emphatically. 

"  You   are  alone  here  every   morning  ? " 

Her  lips  could  barely  frame  a  "Yes,"  when  a  voice  and  step 
in  the  hall  warned  her  to  close  the  window  with  a  hurried 
gesture  to  him ;  and  before  Mrs.  Ashton,  who  had  lingered  to 
give  an  order  to  James,  could  enter  the  room,  Black  Ralph  was 
cantering  towards  the  Portico,  and  Augusta  occupied  with  the 
third  volume  of  "Alinda,  or  the  Child  of  Mystery." 

Very  little  escaped  Mrs.  Ashton's  eye.  The  clatter  of  hoofs 
on  the  flags,  audible  through  the  thick  front  door,  had  left  no 
sensible  impression  on  her  brain,  but  the  heightened  colour  of 
Augusta  attracted  her  attention  at  once.  She  brought  her 
work-basket  from  the  panel-cupboard,  took  thence  a  strip  of 
cambric  muslin,  and  handed  it  to  her  daughter. 

"  My  dear,"  said  she,  quietly,  " '  all  play  makes  no  hay.' 
Your  eyes  are  younger  than  mine,  and  I  think  it  will  do  you 


372  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

more  good  to  hem  your  father's  shirt-frills  than  to  pore  over 
sentimental  books  from  morning  until  night.  So  much  romance 
reading  is  not  good  for  you.  I  see  that  you  are  quite  flushed 
and  excited  over  the  one  you  are  perusing  now." 

There  was  a  sharp  rat-tat  on  the  lion's  head,  and  in  burst 
Mr.  Ashton,  much  more  flushed  and  excited  than  his  daughter. 
He  had  met  Mr.  Laurence  on  Black  Ralph  just  as  he  was 
quitting  the  Portico,  after  an  angry  discussion  with  Mr.  Aspinall 
the  elder. 

"You  are  quite  right,  my  dear,  in  saying,  'Like  father,  like 
son,' "  cried  he,  "  for  I'll  swallow  my  snuff-box  if  that  pompous 
old  cotton-merchant  did  not  justify  his  scapegrace  son  in  his 
attempt  to  carry  off  our  Augusta !  He  said  that  '  the  end 
justified  the  means,"  that  we  'ought  to  be  proud  of  such  an 
alliance '  " — Mrs.  Ashton's  lip  curled — "  that  '  he  was  glad  Miss 
Ashton  had  more  discernment  than  her  parent,'  that  'his  boy 
had  set  his  heart  upon  her,  and  should  not  be  thwarted  in  his 
choice  by  any  beggar's-inkle-weaver  in  England.'  And  no  sooner 
had  I  left  him  in  the  reading-room,  to  digest  my  opinion  on  the 
subject,  and  put  my  foot  on  the  steps  of  the  Portico,  than  up 
rode  young  Hopeful,  and  took  off  his  hat  to  me,  bowing  down 
to  his  black  horse's  mane." 

Having  delivered  himself  of  this  explosive  intelligence,  Mr. 
Ashton  walked  about,  and  sought  a  sedative  in  his  snuff-box ; 
and  Augusta,  who,  folding  the  hem  of  the  frill,  had  not  lost 
one  word,  said,  drily, 

"I  think  Mr.  Aspinall's  justification  of  his  son's  design  may 
at  least  be  taken  as  a  vindication  of  Mr.  Laurence's  honourable 
intentions,  of  which  so  many  doubts  have  been  expressed.  And 
the  bow  equally  absolves  Laurence  from  a  charge  of  malice." 

With  a  proud  toss  of  her  shapely  head,  she  walked  towards 
the  dining-room,  rejecting  the  proffered  arm  of  Jabez,  who  had 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  373 

entered  the  parlour  whilst  Mr.  Ashton  was  speaking,  and  thus 
closed  a  discussion  which  could  not  be  continued  in  the  presence 
of  servants. 

****** 

Jabez,  on  his  return  from  Carr,  had  found  his  rough  old 
clerical  friend  confined  to  his  room  seriously  ill.  Tabitha  was 
worn  out  with  his  humours  and  eccentricities,  and  was  glad 
when  the  young  man  offered  to  relieve  her  twice  or  thrice  a 
week ;  and  old  Joshua  welcomed  him  as  a  relief  from  the 
monotonous  garrulity  of  an  unlettered  old  woman.  Jabez  could 
bring  him  news  of  another  stamp.  Through  Ben  Travis  (who 
had  discovered  that  activity  was  the  best  antidote  to  melancholy), 
he  kept  him  informed  of  the  progress  of  the  incipient  temperance 
movement,  in  which  the  Parson  took  uncommon  interest;  through 
Mr.  Ashton,  he  kept  him  an  courant  of  town  politics,  and  for 
general  intelligence  he  brought  newspapers  with  him  to  be  read, 
interrupted  by  many  and  unique  commentaries.  In  order  that 
Tabitha  might  obtain  repose,  Mr.  Clegg  usually  remained  until 
a  late  hour,  Mrs.  Ashton  herself  entrusting  him  with  a  latch-key 
on  these  occasions. 

One  night,  towards  the  middle  of  October,  when  Joshua  had 
been  more  than  ordinarily  crusty,  and  Jabez  did  not  quit  the 
classic  corner  until  the  "  wee  short  hour  ayont  the  twal,"  he  was 
struck  as  he  turned  the  corner  from  Market  Street  into  Mosley 
Street  to  find  Mr.  Aspinall's  carriage  in  waiting  with  four  horses 
and  postilions. 

He  stood  still  for  a  moment  to  re-assure  himself,  but  carriages 
were  not  so  common  that  he  should  mistake  that  particular  one; 
and  his  heart  drummed  an  alarm  within  his  breast. 

Hurrying  on  with  sad  misgivings,  he  passed  two  tall  figures 
muffled  in  cloaks,  whom  he  had  no  difficulty  in  recognising,  from 
build  and  walk,  to  be  the  Aspinalls,  father  and  son ;  and  increasing 


374  TtiB    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

his  speed  he  gained  the  door,  inserted  his  key  in  the  latch,  and 
was  on  the  stairs  before  the  cloaked  individuals  had  finished 
their  speculations  respecting  his  being  a  robber  escaped  from  a 
constable. 

Formerly,  Augusta  had  to  pass  his  room  door  to  reach  her 
own,  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  long  corridor.  Her  new  chamber 
was  next  to  his  own,  and  nearer  to  the  staircase.  A  thin  stream 
of  light  shot  through  the  key-hole,  and  a  bright  narrow  line  cast 
upon  the  opposite  wall  showed  the  door  ajar.  He  stood  still  in 
his  surprise. 

As  if  a  tipsy,  musically-disposed  man  were  going  past,  the 
refrain  of  a  rollicking  song  was  trolled  out  in  the  street ;  and  then 
Augusta,  equipped  as  for  a  journey,  came  forth  from  her  chamber 
to  descend  the  stairs.  She  had  calculated  on  the  signal  an  hour 
earlier,  and  expected  Jabez  an  hour  later.  As  she  stole  on  tiptoe 
down  the  stairs  Jabez  confronted  her  and  barred  her  progress. 
Her  silver  candlestick  dropped  from  her  hand,  with  the  one  word 
"  Again !"  and  rolling  down  with  a  clang,  awakened  Mr.  and 
Mrs.  Ashton,  the  only  sleepers  on  that  floor,  and  set  Nelson 
barking  furiously.  They  were  in  the  dark,  but  he  had  caught 
her  hand. 

"  Miss  Ashton,  this  is  infatuation — madness." 

"No  matter,  sir,  let  me  pass;  you  have  no  right  to  detain 
me!" 

"But  I  have,  miss,"  said  her  father  coming  behind,  guided  by 
their  voices,  his  scant  apparel  as  invisible  in  the  gloom  as  himself. 
"Is  this  another  attempt  to  disgrace  us  by  eloping?  Oh,  my  child, 
my  child,  you  are  breaking  your  poor  old  father's  heart!" 

"And  mine!"  floated  like  the  echo  of  despair's  last  sigh  from 
the  lips  of  Jabez. 

But  the  utter  hopelessness  of  the  old  man's  tone  touched  a 
sensitive  chord  of  Augusta's  soul,  and  turning,  she  fell  upon  his 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  375 

neck  crying  tearfully,  "  Oh,   forgive  me,  father,  forgive  me.      I  did 
not  think  you    would  take  it  so   much  to  heart." 

The   appeal   of    affection    to   affection    had    accomplished   what 
reason  and  authority  had  failed  to  effect. 


CHAPTER    THE    FORTIETH. 


WITH   ALL  HIS   FAULTS. 

UGUSTA'S  penitence  exhaled  like 
dew  from  a  flower.  In  the 
light  of  her  mother's  lofty 
displeasure  her  tears  dried, 
and  self-will  once  more  exerted 
its  pre-eminence.  She  locked 
herself  in  her  own  room,  and 
resolutely  refused  to  come 
forth. 

"  So  long  as  that  odious 
meddler,  Jabez  Clegg,  remains 
under  our  roof,  I  will  stay  here  ; 

and  if  you  will  not  consent  to  my  marriage  with  Laurence 
Aspinall,  I  will  starve  myself  to  death ! "  was  her  angry  declaration, 
as  she  closed  the  door  and  turned  the  key. 

"Leave  her  alone,"  said  Mrs.  Ashton,  "she  will  want  her  food 
before  her  food  wants  her ;  and  a  little  wholesome  solitude  is 
good  for  reflection.  She  will  change  her  mind  before  the  day 
closes." 

This  was  at  mid-day;  but  night  came,  and  another  noon,  yet 
there  was  no  sign  of  Miss  Ashton's  appearance  ;  and  Mrs.  Ashton 
had  made  no  overtures  to  her  refractory  daughter.  The  tender- 
hearted father  was  in  a  pitiable  state  of  perturbation.  In  and 


A   DYING   GIFT. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  377 

out  the  warehouse  he  was  twenty  times  in  the  day — as  Kezia 
observed,  "For  a'  th'  world  like  a  hen  on  a  hot  griddle;"  and 
his  snuff-box  was  hardly  ever  out  of  his  hand.  Business  seemed 
altogether  beyond  his  grasp ;  he  answered  questions  at  random, 
or  was  unconscious  when  addressed. 

To  this  state  of  trouble  Jaber  unintentionally  contributed  his 
quota.  Over  the  tea-table,  unenlivened  by  Augusta's  sparkling 
presence,  though  she  was  the  one  sole  topic  of  conversation — he 
said,  and  not  without  an  effort — 

"  It  has  occurred  to  me,  and  I  have  thought  the  matter  well 
over,  that  since  my  unfortunate  position  in  relation  to  late  events 
has  made  my  very  presence  obnoxious  to  Miss  Ashton  it  might 
be  better  for  all  concerned  if  I  were  to  shift  my  quarters  without 
delay.  There  are  lodgings  vacant  close  at  hand  ;  and  I  have  no 
right  to  linger  here  and  disturb  the  peace  of  any  one  member  of 
your  kind  family." 

"Jabez  Clegg,"  remonstrated  Mr.  Ashton,  with  wide-open 
eyes. 

"  Have  you  any  other  reason  to  be  dissatisfied  with  present 
arrangements  ? "  asked  Mrs.  Ashton  stiffly. 

"  Oh !  Mrs.  Ashton,  how  can  I  have  ?  This  house  has  been  my 
home  for  years,  and  such  a  home  as  rarely  falls  to  the  lot  of 
the  fatherless.  To  you,  my  benefactors,  I  owe  everything — 
almost  myself;  and  I  should  ill  repay  your  uniform  kindness  by 
remaining  to  create  discord." 

"  If  your  only  desire  to  remove  is  to  gratify  Miss  Ashton's 
whims,  you  will  oblige  me,  Mr.  Clegg,  by  remaining,"  replied 
Mrs.  Ashton,  with  grave  decision  ;  whilst  Mr.  Ashton,  looking  the 
very  picture  of  consternation,  laid  his  hand  upon  the  young  man's 
sleeve,  and  said  slowly — 

"  My  lad,  you  have  been  one  of  the  household  for  many  years  ; 
do  not  be  the  first  to  make  a  breach  in  the  family.  If  the  child 


378  THE    MANCHESTER    MAM. 

of  our  blood  and  our  affections  goes  forth  to  strangers  wilfully, 
and  repudiates  us,  do  not  let  the  son  of  our  adoption  leave  us 
to  lament  her  loss  in  solitude." 

This  was  strong  language,  but  Mrs.  Ashton  did  not  gainsay 
it,  and  Mr,  Clegg  could  not  longer  press  the  point,  though  his 
own  pain  was  intensified  by  the  fear  of  adding  to  the  distress  of 
Augusta,  who,  he  was  confident,  regarded  him  as  an  interloper 
and  a  mischief-maker. 

Little  had  been  seen  of  Ellen  since  the  return  from  Carr 
Cottage.  A  message  despatched  by  Mrs.  Ashton  to  her  sister, 
in  her  dilemma,  was  answered  by  another  to  pray  them  to  "excuse 
Miss  Chadwick,  who  was  not  well  enough  to  go  out." 

This  somewhat  disconcerted  Mrs.  Ashton,  who,  more  alarmed 
than  she  would  admit,  and  disturbed  by  the  restless  uneasiness  of 
her  husband,  had  looked  for  Ellen  to  act  as  a  mediator  without 
any  compromise  of  her  own  dignity. 

At  the  close  of  the  second  day,  as  Augusta  pertinaciously 
refused  to  open  the  door,  at  the  instance  of  Jabez  the  lock  was 
forced;  and  even  then  a  barrier  of  chairs  and  boxes  had  to  be 
thrust  back  by  sheer  strength.  She  was  exhausted  from  want 
of  food,  but  her  will  was  indomitable,  and  neither  her  father's 
entreaties,  nor  her  mother's  commands  could  induce  her  to  partake 
of  the  viands  spread  before  her. 

Jabez  was  in  agony.  Delicacy  and  her  obvious  dislike  had 
kept  him  from  intruding  upon  her  privacy,  but  as  hour  after 
hour  was  added  to  the  night,  and  Augusta  persistently  dashed 
aside  the  food  placed  to  her  lips,  he  joined  his  prayers  to  those 
of  her  father,  and  neither  availing,  rushed  out  of  the  house, 
and  in  less  than  a  quarter  of  an  hour  returned  with  Dr.  Hull. 
He  was  not  a  man  to  stand  any  nonsense. 

"Here,  sir," — to  Jabez — "you  are  young  and  strong.  Hold 
the  silly  child's  arms  whilst  her  teeth  are  forced  apart.  If  she 


THB    MANCHESTER    MAN.  379 

will  no  take  food,  she  shall  take  physic,  and  see  which  she 
likes  the  best." 

But  the  struggle  to  nourish  her  frame  through  set  teeth  was 
prolonged  and  painful,  and  the  parents  were  likely  to  yield 
before  the  child. 

Servants  may  be  faithful,  but  they  have  eyes  and  ears,  and 
not  always  discreet  tongues.  Family  matters  discussed  freely 
in  the  kitchen  before  apprentices  found  their  way  into  the 
warehouse  and  beyond  it,  and  Mrs.  Ashton's  nerves  tingled  when 
she  became  acquainted  with  the  rumours  afloat. 

From  Tim,  the  Ashton  stable-boy,  Aspinall's  emissary  (Bob 
the  groom,  once  more  in  his  old  service)  had  no  difficulty  in 
obtaining  all  the  information  his  young  master  required. 

Laurence  waylaid  Mr.  Ashton,  inquired  anxiously  after  the 
obstinate  girl's  health,  and,  having  paved  the  way  by  as  much 
contrition  as  he  thought  necessary,  called  at  the  house  the 
following  morning,  in  company  with  his  father,  to  renew  proposals 
for  Miss  Ashton's  hand. 

Worn  out  by  Augusta's  obstinacy,  which  she  and  Laurence 
agreed  to  call  "constancy,"  father  and  mother  were  in  a 
different  frame  of  mind  to  receive  this  proposition  than  when 
they  had  given  their  former  peremptory  rejection.  They  were 
not  one  whit  more  convinced  by  Mr.  Laurence's  assurance  that 
he  meant  to  "  reform,"  or  Mr.  Aspinall's  quotation  of  the  adage, 
"  A  reformed  rake  makes  the  best  husband ; "  but,  rather  than 
see  their  child  starve  herself  to  death  before  their  very  eyes, 
they  yielded,  and  Laurence  Aspinall,  profuse  alike  in  thanks  and 
professions,  was  permitted  by  aching  hearts  and  reluctant  lips  to 
introduce  Augusta  to  his  father  then  and  there  as  his  bride- 
elect. 

It  was  a  moment  ot  triumph  for  Laurence  when  Augusta 
refused  to  come  down  stairs  without  an  assurance  under  his  own 


380  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

hand.  He  pencilled  on  a  card,  "  My  Augusta,  I  wait  for  you, — 
Laurence."  And  presently,  supported  by  a  maid-servant,  she 
entered  the  room,  her  dress  of  purple  poplin  serving  to  show 
how  wan  and  transparent  her  fair  skin  had  grown,  how  unnatural 
was  the  brilliance  of  her  eyes, 

She  would  have  fallen,  as  much  from  weakness  as  emotion, 
on  her  entrance  into  the  parlour,  but  that  Laurence  darted 
forward  and  caught  her  in  an  embrace  which  brought  back 
somewhat  of  her  lost  colour ;  and  if  anything  could  have  softened 
the  pain  of  that  hour  to  her  parents,  it  was  the  apparent  ardour 
and  sincerity  of  the  lover,  the  hope  that  a  genuine  passion  might 
tend  to  wean  him  from  his  old  habits  and  associates. 

Mr.   Aspinall's   reception   of  Augusta  was   characteristic. 

"  My  charming  Miss  Ashton,  I  see  my  son  has  brought  back 
the  roses  to  your  cheeks.  May  they  never  fade  again,  but 
bloom  perennially  without  a  thorn  !  I  rejoice  to  kiss  your  hand 
paternally  on  this  auspicious  occasion,  and  to  assure  you  that  I 
shall  be  proud  to  welcome  such  beauty,  and  such  constancy,  as 
the  wife  of  my  noble  son." 

Consent  once  obtained,  the  Aspinalls  were  as  eager  to  press 
forward  the  marriage  as  the  Ashtons  were  to  retard  it,  neither 
her  father  nor  mother  affecting  a  satisfaction  they  did  not  feel. 

"My  dear,"  said  the  latter  to  Augusta  one  day,  when  her 
eyes  were  sparkling  over  a  costly  present  just  received  from 
Laurence,  "your  father  was  in  hopes  you  would  have  fixed  your 
heart  on  some  good  steady  man  like  Jabez  Clegg,  who  would 
have  been  a  comfort  and  a  credit  to  all  of  us,  and  have  kept 
the  business  in  the  family  after  we  were  in  our  graves." 

"  Pshaw,  mamma  ?  how  preposterous !  I  am  surprised  at  my 
father's  infatuation  for  that  young  man.  I  esteem  him  quite 
sufficiently  for  a  friend,  but" — and  she  locked  an  emerald  earring 
in  her  delicate  ear — "I  could  not  exist  with  a  husband  whose 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  381 

heart  was  in  his  business.  My  husband's  heart  must  hold  me, 
and  me  only ;  and  I  must  have  something  to  look  at  as  well 
as  to  love." 

"  Ah !  Augusta,  it  must  be  a  very  small  heart  indeed  which 
cannot  find  room  both  for  a  wife  and  a  business  to  maintain 
her  fittingly.  The  sheen  of  a  dress  which  must  last  a  life  is  of 
less  consequence  than  its  durable  texture." 

"  Well,  mamma,  so  long  as  the  material  pleases  my  eyes,  I 
will  take  the  wear  upon  trust.  And  do  not  be  surprised  that 
your  daughter  prefers  a  fine  man  and  a  gentleman  to  one  whose 
fortune  is  in  the  clouds,  and  whose  origin  is  so  obscure  he  has 
not  even  a  name  to  call  his  own:' 

She  was  standing  to  admire  herself  and  her  new  jewellery  in 
the  Venetian  glass  between  the  windows  as  she  said  this,  and  her 
mother's  figure  filling  in  the  frame,  Jabez  Clegg  came  and  went 
unseen,  a  pang  in  his  heart  and  an  intensified  resolve  to  make 
both  fortune  and  name  for  himself  even  though  his  master's 
daughter  vanished  from  his  vision. 

Nothing  would  induce  Mr.  Ashton  to  part  with  his  child  until 
she  was  at  least  eighteen;  and  in  that  particular  he  was  proof 
against  the  importunities  of  Laurence  and  the  cajoleries  of  Augusta. 
So  for  ten  months  (during  which  the  lawyers  had  ample  time  to 
quarrel  over  the  settlement  of  Augusta's  £18,000,  so  that  too 
much  or  too  little  should  not  be  tied  down  on  the  lady)  the 
dashing  young  blade  was  on  his  trial,  so  to  speak,  and  contrived 
to  beguile  both  father  and  mother  of  their  prejudices;  whilst  to 
Augusta  a  new  world  of  gaiety  was  opened  out. 

As  her  daughter's  chaperon,  Mrs.  Ashton  renewed  her  acquaint- 
ance with  the  yellow  satin  cushions  of  the  Assembly  Rooms,  the 
Gentlemen's  Concerts  discoursed  sweet  music  in  their  ears,  Miss 
Ashton  could  take  her  seat  in  the  boxes  of  the  Theatre  Royal 
without  fear  of  Madame  Broadbent's  fan,  and  Kezia  was  in  her 


382  TUB    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

glory,  so  many  balls  and   parties  had  to  be  catered  for ;    and  Mr. 
Laurence  Aspinall  was  in  the  ascendant. 

All  this  was  inexpressibly  painful  to  Jabez,  but  as  he  had 
written  to  Ben  Travis  that  "there  was  something  more  for  men 
to  do  than  die  of  disappointment  or  blighted  love,"  so  he  set  his 
face  like  a  rock  against  the  breakers,  and  gave  himself  entirely 
to  business.  He  said  to  himself  it  would  be  cowardice  to  flee 
from  that  which  must  be  borne  and  mastered,  so  never  another 
word  was  heard  of  his  seeking  a  home  elsewhere.  If  he  was 
brave,  he  was  not  foolhardy  enough  to  court  pain  in  the  sight  of 
his  rival's  triumph,  and  though  in  his  determination  to  "  stick  to 
his  last,"  he  had  eschewed  all  art  which  came  not  within  the 
scope  of  pattern  designing,  to  that  he  turned  with  redoubled 
assiduity  after  business  hours,  having  found  a  profitable  market 
apart  from  Mr.  Ashton's  firm,  as  his  account  with  the  Savings 
Bank  in  Cross  Street  had  borne  witness  from  the  date  of  its 
establishment  in  January,  1818. 

But  for  a  brief  space,  and  that  whilst  the  wound  was  raw  and 
new,  his  ministrations  to  the  dying  chaplain  of  the  Old  Church 
not  only  carried  him  out  of  sight  and  hearing,  but  in  a  measure 
drew  his  thoughts  away  from  his  own  sorrow. 

Once  only  did  Joshua  scarify  the  sore.  In  an  interval  of  pain 
he  said  with  his  customary  abruptness — 

"And  so  that  pretty  lass  of  thy  master's  is  going  to  throw 
herself  away  on  the  wild  rascal  who  pitched  thee  over  the 
wall?" 

Jabez  could  not  trust  himself  to   answer   save    by  a  movement 
of  his  head. 
"Ugh!   she'd  better  ha'  takken  a  fancy  to  thee!" 

Half-an-hour  or  more  elapsed.     Waking  from  a  doze,  he  said — 

"  Dost  thou  remember  my  telling  thee  to  look  at  '  Hogarth's 
Apprentice'  in  Chadwick's  parlour?" 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  383 

"  Indeed,  I  do !  Those  pictures  have  influenced  my  life,"  answered 
Mr,  Clegg  with  a  sigh,  pouring  out  a  dose  of  medicine  as  he  spoke. 

"More  physic,  eh?  Ugh!  doctors  kill  more  than  they  cure 
with  their  stuff!  Ay,  lad,  thah'st  mounted  up,  thou'lt  be  a  master 
thyself  some  day,  if  thou  dost  not  forget  that  Jabez  must  be  an 
honourable  man  !" 

"  I  never  did  forget  it  sir,  even  though  the  apprentice  boy  was 
mad  enough  to  aspire  to  his  master's  daughter!  But  losing  her, 
I  have  learned  a  new  lesson.  The  prayer  of  the  clden  Jabez, 
which  has  been  mine  night  and  morn  from  boyhood,  was  a  prayer 
for  self,  and  self  only,  and  I  had  no  right  to  look  for  an  answer 
to  all  the  hopes  I  based  upon  it.  If  I  have  not  been  'kept  from 
evil/  and  it  has  'grieved  me,'  I  prayed  for  myselt  alone,  and  in 
grief  I  have  my  answer.  Prayer  should  take  a  wider  range." 

"  Right,  lad,  right !   now  let   me  sleep." 

When  he  waked  again  he  remarked — 

"  It's  time  for  thee  to  be  off,  Jabez  ;  but  time  is  running  faster 
with  me  than  thee,  lad.  Here,  reach  yon  "Terence"  from  the 
bureau.  It  is  the  Edinburgh  edition.  Keep  it  for  the  sake  of 
the  rough  old  Parson  who  gave  thee  thy  name.  And  take  care 
of  it.  Good  night.  How  thick  the  fog  is!"  He  had  lost  the 
sight  of  one  eye,  and  the  other  was  rapidly  going. 

That  was  the  ninth  of  November.  When  Jabez  came  again 
on  the  eleventh,  the  fog  had  cleared  away  from  Joshua  Brookes's 
sight  for  ever;  and  fountains  of  tears  ran  freely  from  many  eyes 
for  the  hot,  hasty,  single-minded,  and  learned  Parson  whose  name 
was  a  household  word  in  the  town,  and  who  had  ever  been  a 
kind  friend  to  Jabez.  In  his  life  he  had  been  at  war  with 
huckster-women,  street-urchins,  school-boys,  and  his  ecclesiastical 
brethren.  In  his  death  the  wide  parish,  and  more  than  the  parish, 
united  to  reverence  his  memory,  those  who  had  laughed  loudest 
at  his  eccentricities  being  foremost  to  bewail  him, 


384  THB    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Even  the  November  clouds  hung  thick  and  heavy  as  a  pall 
over  the  Old  Church  and  churchyard,  crowded  with  mourners, 
when  his  silent  remains  were  carried  to  their  bed  in  the  cross 
aisles  his  feet  had  trodden  so  many  active  years,  and  if  others 
besides  Jabez  shed  tears  over  the  open  and  honoured  grave, 
there  was  many  an  old  creature  mourning  in  solitude,  besides 
the  queer  old  woman,  in  kerchief  and  mutch,  who  sat  amongst 
her  sweets  in  a  closed  shop,  and  lamented  that  so  young  a 
man  as  Parson  Brookes  should  be  carried  off  before  her. 

"  Well-a-day !  and  only  sixty-seven !  He'll  want  no  more 
humbugs,  and  no  more  cakes  for  his  pigeons.  Poor  Jotty ! " 

There  was  no  mention  of  Jabez  in  his  will,  but  when  the 
young  man  took  the  old  worn  "  Terence "  sadly  and  reverently 
down  from  the  shelf  where  he  had  first  placed  it,  on  turning 
over  its  leaves  he  found  a  banknote  for  ^"300  pinned  to  the 
fly-leaf,  on  which  was  inscribed  his  own  name  and  that  of  the 
eccentric  donor. 


CHAPTER    THE    FORTY-FIRST. 

MARRIAGE  ! 

E.D  Jabez  been  vindictive,  the  opportunity,  or  at  least 
the  promise  of  revenge  on  his  successful  rival  was 
not  wanting.  Various  efforts  had  been  made  to 
call  the  Manchester  Yeomanry  to  account  for  their 
doings  at  Peterloo,  and  many  had  been  the  overtures  and 
suggestions  to  Jabez  Clegg  by  members  of  the  Radical  party 
to  join  in  the  prosecution  of  the  offenders.  But  he  resolutely 
refused  to  identify  the  trooper  who  struck  him,  saying 

"  I  forgave  the  man  at  the  time,  believing  him  to  be  drunk, 
and  incapable  of  discrimination.  If  I  have  since  had  reason  to 
think  otherwise,  I  cannot  be  so  mean  as  to  allow  private 
feelings  to  influence  a  public  act." 

It  would  be  false  to  say  there  never  was  a  tug  at  his 
heart-strings  when  the  tempters  were  again  at  his  elbow,  before 
they  made  their  final  attempt  in  1822.  But  he  said  to 
himself 

"  If  it  would  have  been  revengeful  at  the  time  when  the 
bodily  injury  was  fresh,  it  would  be  doubly  revengeful,  mean, 
and  dishonourable  now  that  he  has  supplanted  me  in  love.  And  in 
striking  at  him  I  should  wound  Augusta,  and  that  must  never 
be." 

The  temptation  to  expose  his  adversary  was  set  aside,  and 
thus  it  was  that  Laurence  Aspinall's  name  was  not  added  to 

cc 


386  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

those  of  the  four  defenders  on  the  record  of  the  trial  at  Lancaster 
in  April ;  and  as  that  trial,  after  the  examination  of  nearly  a 
hundred  witnesses  of  all  ranks,  terminated  unsuccessfully  for  the 
prosecution,  the  forbearance  of  our  friend  Jabez  spared  him  at 
least  the  mortification  of  defeat. 

The  year  rolled  on.  At  the  instance  of  Mr.  Ashton,  Jabez 
withdrew  the  bulk  of  his  deposits  from  the  Savings  Bank,  and 
adding  to  Joshua  Brookes's  gift  the  £200  he  had  accumulated 
by  working  late  and  early,  and  saving  small  sums  even  during 
his  apprenticeship,  placed  all  in  his  master's  hands  to  be  invested 
in  the  business  and  so  return  him  a  higher  rate  of  interest. 
And  this  was  the  first  absolute  start  of  Jabez  as  a  capitalist. 

The  joyous  excitement  attending  Augusta's  own  preparations 
for  her  approaching  nuptials  was  somewhat  damped  by  the 
unaccountable  condition  of  Ellen  Chadwick,  whose  health,  instead 
of  improving  during  her  visit  to  Carr  Cottage,  had  appeared  to 
decline  still  more  perceptibly.  A  constant  pain  at  her  chest, 
frequent  headaches,  uncertain  spirits,  and  increasing  langour  gave 
Mr,  and  Mrs.  Chadwick  real  cause  for  uneasiness ;  but  Ellen 
would  not  hear  of  a  doctor,  and  maintained  that  it  was  "nothing 
to  trouble  about,"  she  would  "  be  better  soon." 

She  did  not  get  "better  soon,"  and  when  the  first  August 
sun  shone  on  Augusta's  birthday  and  bridal,  it  taxed  her  powers 
to  the  utmost  to  sustain  efficiently  her  part  as  bridesmaid. 

Had  Captain  Travis  accepted  his  lieutenant's  invitation  to  be 
groomsman,  she  would  have  found  it  still  more  difficult ;  but  a 
comparative  stranger,  a  Mr.  Joseph  Bennett,  of  Gorton,  filled  the 
post,  the  bride's  father  having  objected  very  decidedly  to  bold 
Ned  Barret. 

Yet  Ben  Travis  and  Jabez  Clegg  were  both  among  the  guests, 
albeit  it  cost  each  a  struggle.  The  two  had  mutually 
strengthened  each  other  as  such  friends  should,  arriving  at  the 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN,  387 

Spartan  decision  to  "suffer  and  be  silent,  facing  their  fate  like 
men."  And  indeed,  old  Mr,  Ashton  had  wrung  the  hand  of 
Jabez  at  least  a  week  before,  and  said — 

"  I'm  sorry  for  you,  Clegg ;  I  am,  upon  my  soul ;  and  I'm 
sorry  for  our  poor  lass,  too,  for  she's  made  a  mistake.  But 
keep  a  brave  heart,  and  don't  let  that  slashing  yeomanry  fellow 
crow  over  you.  As  Mrs.  Ashton  would  say,  '  What  can't  be 
cured  must  be  endured,'  and  we  must  all  of  us  show  the  best 
face  at  the  wedding  that  we  can." 

If  that  meant  elaborate  display  in  dress  and  decorations,  and 
provision  for  the  bridal  breakfast  and  dinner,  then  the  face 
exhibited  was  a  shining  one.  Mrs.  Hodgson,  the  fashionable 
mantua-maker  and  milliner,  of  Oldham  Street  (where  two  or 
three  of  the  private  houses  had  already  been  converted  into 
shops),  had  kept  her  apprentices  at  work  almost  night  and  day 
for  weeks,  executing  bridal  orders  from  the  Ashtons  and  their 
friends.  A  very  snowstorm  might  have  passed  through  the 
workroom,  such  heaps  of  white  French  crape  and  satin,  lace 
and  organdi,  lute-string  and  gauze,  littered  and  covered  available 
space,  putting  matronly  brocade,  velvet,  and  llama  quite  into  the 
shade. 

The  warehouse  saw  little  of  Mrs.  Ashton  for  a  week  or  ten 
days  previously.  Cicily,  who  had  gone  over  to  the  Aspinalls, 
had  begged  to  be  allowed  to  help  Kezia  for  that  occasion,  and 
she  roasted  her  own  face  in  spinning  gold  and  silver  webs 
and  baskets  from  sugar  for  the  table,  making  "floating  islands," 
syllabubs,  trifles,  jellies,  and  blanc-mange  to  supplement  the  solid 
dishes  Kezia  dressed  with  so  much  skill.  And  Mr.  Mabbott 
sent  in  a  sugary  "Temple  of  Hymen"  and  a  bride's  cake 
prepared  six  weeks  in  advance. 

The  bride,  alternately  radiant  and  tearful  like  an  April  day, 
veiled  with  laqe  and  crowned  with  white  rosebuds  and  orange- 


388  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

blossoms,  wore  a  low-bodiced  dress  of  white  satin,  festooned 
round  the  narrow  skirt  with  costly  lace,  whilst  on  neck  and 
arms,  and  in  her  tiny  ears,  were  neglig6,  bracelets,  and  earrings 
of  pearl,  the  gift  of  the  gallant  bridegroom's  gallant  father. 

The  bridegroom  was  scarcely  less  resplendent  in  his  high- 
collared  blue  coat  and  gold  buttons,  his  white  waistcoat  buttoned 
to  match,  his  glossy  white  trousers,  and  low  shoes  tied  with  a 
bunch  of  silk  ferret.  An  oblong  brooch  set  with  a  rim  of 
pearls  held  down  his  broad  fine  shirt-frills;  from  his  fob  hung 
a  huge  bunch  of  gold  seals  pendant  from  a  flat  gold  watch 
chain ;  and  in  his  hand  (not  crushing  his  elaborate  curls,  now 
clustering  richly  as  ever)  he  carried  a  hat  of  white  beaver  of 
the  newest  shape. 

To  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Ashton  it  was  a  matter  of  open  regret  that 
Joshua  Brookes,  who  had  christened  Augusta,  should  not  have 
lived  to  marry  her  also ;  but  Mr.  Aspinall,  whose  reminiscences 
of  the  old  chaplain  were  of  another  order,  was  much  better 
satisfied  to  see  his  own  personal  friend,  Parson  Gatliffe,  the  bon 
vivant,  behind  the  altar  rails. 

If  the  bride  was  tall  and  graceful,  with  sunshine  in  her  eyes 
and  in  her  classic  curls,  tall  and  stately  was  the  bride's  mother, 
whose  long  train  of  purple  silk  velvet  swept  the  aisles,  though 
trains  had  ceased  to  be  general.  There  was  no  faltering  over 
the  responses.  There  was  a  glow  of  modest  pride  on  the  cheek 
of  Augusta;  a  look  of  mingled  ardour  and  exultation  on  the 
face  of  Laurence ;  his  "  I  will "  was  pronounced  with  a  force 
which  was  almost  fierce,  yet,  as  she  faintly  promised  to  "obey," 
he  pressed  her  hand  with  smiling  significance. 

The  ceremony  over,  the  bride  did  not  faint,  but  turning  to 
her  tearful-eyed  father,  threw  her  arms  around  his  neck  and  clung 
to  him,  whispering  how  grateful  she  was  that  he  had  given  her 
the  man  of  her  choice,  and  that  he  should  see  what  a  good  wife 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  389 

she  would   make ;    and  the  impromptu  embrace  sent  a  shower  of 
snuff  over  white   satin   and   lace. 

Yet  some  one  fainted,  whom  Ben  Travis  caught  in  his  strong 
arms  and  carried  to  the  church  door  for  air  ;  a  dark-haired,  black- 
eyed  bridesmaid,  whose  face  was  white  and  skin  transparent  as 
her  own  robe. 

Custom  had  not  set  its  imperative  seal  on  the  wedding  tour 
as  a  necessity,  but  after  a  magnificent  solid  dinner,  to  which  the 
party  did  full  justice,  and  an  elaborate  dessert,  during  which  the 
cake  was  cut,  and  Mr.  Aspinall  proposed  the  health  of  the  bride 
in  an  inflated  toast,  demanding  that  it  should  be  drunk  in 
bumpers,  "and  no  heel-taps,"  the  wedded  pair  drove  off  in  Mr. 
Aspinall's  carriage  to  the  family  mansion  at  Fallowfield,  there 
to  spend  the  honeymoon. 

"  Good-bye,  Jabez,"  said  Augusta,  putting  her  small  soft  hand 
into  his  as  they  left  the  house ;  "  you  will  comfort  my  father  and 
mother,  will  you  not  ?  I  trust  them  to  you." 

And  he  replied  with  the  fervency  of  truth,  "  I  accept  the 
trust  willingly.  Good-bye,  Mrs.  Aspinall"  (how  the  word  choked 
him !)  "  May  God  bless  you,  and  the  marriage  you  have 
contracted.  Good-bye!" 

He  did  not  kiss  her  hand,  had  not  taken  the  common  liberty 
of  guests  to  kiss  the  bride's  lips  in  church ;  he  did  but  press  her 
hand  as  any  old  friend  who  had  grown  up  with  her  under  the 
same  roof  might  have  done ;  but  before  the  carriage  had  well 
dashed  from  the  door,  or  the  bridegroom  had  fairly  settled 
himself  on  his  seat,  Laurence  turned  to  the  fair  young  wife, 
whose  prophetic  tears  were  now  falling  fast,  with  the  sharp 
rebuke — 

"What  was  that  foundling  fellow  mumbling  over  your  hand? 
You  will  please  to  remember  that  that  hand  is  mine  now,  Mrs, 
Aspinall.  You  have  promised  to  love  and  obey  me — ME  your  LORD 


3go  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

and  MASTER.  And  MASTER  I  mean  to  be.  I  have  borne  the 
fooling  of  your  friends  and  your  own  pretty  caprices  long  enough. 
It  is  my  turn  now ;  and  if  any  man  so  much  as  dares  to  look  at 
you  I'll  pound  him  to  a  jelly!  And  now  dry  your  eyes  and 
give  me  a  kiss!" 

And  that  was  the  inauguration  of  Augusta  ApinalPs  married 
life. 

It  has  been  said  that  the  bridesmaid  fainted.  Every  lady 
carried  a  smelling  bottle,  and  means  to  revive  her  were  not  far 
to  seek.  She  soon  recovered,  and  with  a  sensitive  blush  withdrew 
from  the  arms  which  had  been  so  proud  to  sustain  her,  casting 
her  eyes  round  as  if  in  search  of  some  other  whose  service  might 
have  been  more  acceptable.  But  she  suffered  no  relapse.  She 
was  ready  to  wait  upon  the  bride,  to  sign  "  Ellen  Chadwick "  in 
the  church  register,  and  to  assist  a  Mr.  Joseph  Bennett  in  cutting 
up  the  cake  for  distribution,  with  cards  and  gloves,  to  friends  not 
present.  It  was  an  arduous  task,  and  she  succumbed  before  it 
was  half  completed. 

"  Miss  Chadwick,  you  are  not  well  ;  let  me  relieve  you,"  said 
Jabez,  coming  to  her  assistance  after  the  "  happy  pair  "  had  driven 
off,  and  whilst  peals  of  laughter,  shouts,  and  hurrahs  came  from 
the  dining-room,  where  gentlemen  were  honouring  the  bridal  by 
drinking  themselves  senseless  and  speechless. 

Ellen  remained  with  her  aunt  a  few  days  longer,  during  which 
Jabez,  exceedingly  pained  to  see  the  ravages  hidden  disease  had 
made  in  so  estimable  a  young  lady,  was  pitifully  attentive. 

He  could  not,  however,  fail  to  see  that  his  attentions  distressed 
her ;  and,  on  the  whole  he  was  not  sorry  when  Augusta's  parents 
and  he  were  left  to  themselves,  to  talk  of  their  own  dear  one 
and  speculate  on  her  future. 

Weeks  went  by.  Mrs.  Aspinall  visited  her  old  home,  but 
never  without  her  husband ;  and  seldom  was  she  allowed  to 


THB    MANCHESTER    MAN.  jgi 

remain  more  than  an  hour.  Her  spirits  seemed  exuberant,  but 
somehow  her  unusual  vivacity  jarred  on  her  mother's  nerves,  and 
she  suspected  that  her  spirits  were  forced. 

Meanwhile  Ellen  Chadwick  faded.  Dr.  Hardie,  called  in  at 
last,  watched  his  patient  with  curious  and  attentive  eye,  perplexed 
and  dubious.  He  had  been  friend  as  well  as  physician  since  Mr. 
Chadwick's  attack  of  paralysis,  and  was  a  close  observer.  Now 
he  came  and  went  in  a  gossiping  sort  of  way,  to  put  his  patient 
at  ease,  and  off  her  guard.  He  was  there  one  day  when  Jabez 
was  announced,  and  saw  a  sudden  spasmodic  action  of  the  face, 
a  dilation  of  the  pupils,  a  scarcely  perceptible  pant  and  parting 
of  the  lips,  and  then  he  watched  her  closer.  He  introduced  Mr. 
Clegg's  name,  as  if  casually,  whilst  his  ringers  were  on  her  pulse. 
The  result  of  his  observations  were  told  to  Mr.  Chadwick  the 
same  day. 

"Your  daughter  has  no  specific  disease,  Mr.  Chadwick,  she  is 
simply  love-sick" 

"  L-love-s-sick?" 

"  Yes ;  and  her  secret  passion  is  consuming  her.  Medicine 
cannot  save  the  patient's  life  if  her  affection  be  not  returned, 
and  that  right  speedily." 

Mr.    Chadwick   was   aghast. 

"I   feared   as   much,"   said   Mrs.   Chadwick,  with  a  sigh. 

"  Then  you  will  have  an  inkling  who  is  the  desired  object  ? " 
said  the  doctor. 

"I   think   so." 

"  Does  your  maternal  instinct  point  to  Mr.  Clegg  ? "  he  asked, 
with  a  curious  look. 

"  It  does ;  but  he  himself  has  no  suspicion,  and  I  am  sure 
regards  Ellen  only  as  a  friend — a  friend  elevated  a  little  above 
him." 

"  Is  the  young  man  courting  ? 


3g2  YHB    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

"I   believe  not." 

"  Then,"  said  the  doctor,  sententiously,  "  the  sooner  he  is,  the 
better  for  Miss  Chadwick.  Her  life  is  not  worth  a  month's 
purchase  unless  Mr.  Clegg  become  the  buyer.  But  let  not  Miss 
Ellen  hear  a  whisper  of  my  opinion.  Good  day." 

And,  snatching  up  his  hat,  the  doctor  departed,  leaving  them 
to  their  reflections. 

Here  was  a  delicate  subject  to  be  dealt  with,  and  that 
without  either  loss  of  time  or  the  sacrifice  of  their  beloved 
child's  sensitiveness  and  reserve. 

Unknown  to  Ellen,  a  family  conclave  assembled  under  the 
Mosley  Street  roof,  to  discuss  the  momentous  question,  and 
deliberate  what  was  best  to  be  done.  Long  and  grave  were 
their  deliberations.  At  length,  taking  Mr.  Chadwick's  imperfect 
speech  into  consideration,  Mr.  Ashton  consented  to  lay  the  case 
before  Jabez,  and  leave  his  brother-in-law  to  supplement  it,  if 
necessary ;  though  opinions  were  divided  as  to  the  result. 

It  was  after  business  hours,  and  Mr.  Ashton  found  Jabez  in 
his  own  room,  doing  his  best  to  dissipate  thought  by  hard  work, 
mind  and  hand  being  busy  with  a  chintz  pattern  for  calico- 
printing. 

There  was  a  nervous  plunge  into  the  gold  snuff-box,  and  a 
consequent  flourish  of  a  gay  bandana,  and  some  time  spent  in 
examining  the  incomplete  design  on  the  desk  before  Mr.  Ashton 
could  fairly  enter  on  his  embassy.  After  a  little  prelude,  in 
which,  whilst  enlarging  on  the  serious  nature  of  his  niece's  illness, 
he  elicited  from  Jabez  that  he  held  the  young  lady  in  the  very 
highest  esteem,  and  was  deeply  grieved  to  hear  of  her  perilous 
state,  he  put  down  his  snuff-box  on  the  table  before  him,  and 
drawing  up  his  chair  so  as  to  bring  their  heads  closer  together, 
looked  steadfastly  into  the  other's  clear  eyes  as  he  put  the 
question — 


THB    MANCHESTER    MAN.  393 

"And  what  should  you  think  of  love  as  the  cause  of  her 
malady  ? " 

"  LOVE  ! "  echoed  Jabez,  his  mind  running  off  to  the  agonised 
confession  made  to  him  on  the  Taxal  hillside. 

"Yes,  love,  and  for  the  very  man  whose  merits  my  foolish 
child  failed  to  see." 

Jabez   looked   at   him   vaguely. 

"Surely,   not   Mr.    Marsland  !  " 

"  Pah !  no ! "  exclaimed  Mr.  Ashton,  as  if  disgusted  at  his 
obtuseness.  "  Yourself,  man — Jabez  Clegg." 

Jabez  fixed  his  eyes  on  his  informant  in  blank  amazement,  a 
monosyllabic  long-drawn  "  Me ! "  being  his  sole  response. 

"  Just  so ! "  assented  Mr.  Ashton,  and  he  took  a  pinch  of 
snuff  on  the  strength  of  it. 

"  Oh,  sir,  there  must  be  some  mistake !  How  has  this  been 
ascertained  ?  Has  Miss  Chadwick  made " 

"  No,  Clegg,  the  poor  lass  has  never  said  one  word,  except 
with  her  eyes  and  pulse.  Dr.  Hardie  has  made  the  discovery 
now,  and  it  turns  out  Mrs.  Chadwick  suspected  it  long  ago." 

"Oh,  dear!  dear  1   this  is   very  terrible!" 

He  was  estimating  the  pain  in  Ellen's  heart  by  that  in  his  own. 

"  Very  terrible  indeed,  Clegg,  for  Hardie  says  the  lass's  life 
is  not  worth  so  much  as  a  yard  of  filleting  if  her  love  meet 
no  return." 

The  head  of  Jabez  sank  in  his  open  hands  upon  the  table. 
What  would  his  friend  Travis  think  of  all  this  ?  Presently  he 
raised  his  face,  over  which  a  strange  change  had  passed. 

"  Mr.  Ashton,  what  would  you  have  me   do  ? " 

"Whatever  Jabez  Clegg  thinks  he  ought  to  do,"  he  answered 
steadily,  adding  in  another  tone,  "I  would  have  been  glad  to 
have  given  thee  my  own  child  ;  my  brother-in-law  implores  thee 
to  take  his  child,  to  save  her  life," 


394  THB    MANCHESTER 

After  a  prolonged  silence  Jabez   spoke. 

"  Mr.  Ashton,  I  hold  that  love  alone  can  sanctify  marriage  ; 
my  love  has  blossomed  and  died  fruitless.  Yet  so  highly  do  I 
esteem  Miss  Chadwick,  and  so  proud  am  I  of  the  great  honour 
she  has  done  me  in  her  preference,  that  I  place  myself  in  your 
hands.  If  I  can  spare  so  amiable  a  young  lady  the  pain  I 
suffer  from  rejected  love,  I  should  be  a  brute  and  a  savage  to 
refuse  her  the  remnant  of  a  valueless  life.  We  may  at  least 
soften  its  asperities  for  each  other." 

The  Chadwicks  went  home  with  minds  relieved,  but  Jabez 
had  stipulated  that  nothing  should  be  said  to  Ellen  of  their 
overtures  to  him,  no  hint  given  which  could  alarm  her  shrinking 
modesty. 

The  following  day  he  called  to  inquire  about  her  health, 
made  his  genuine  anxiety  apparent,  and  noted,  as  he  had  never 
done  before,  how  her  lip  trembled  and  her  eyelid  drooped. 
Gradually,  as  his  attentions  became  more  marked,  her  health 
and  spirits  rose,  and  when  at  last  he  proposed  to  her  calmly, 
quietly,  as  though  he  sought  a  haven  when  the  frothy  waves  of 
a  first  passion  had  subsided,  she  accepted  him  as  God's  best 
gift,  all  unaware  that  his  offer  was  not  spontaneous,  or  that  her 
cousin  Augusta  was  yet  deeply  shrined  in  his  secret  heart. 

He  had  been  at  first  greatly  concerned  about  Ben  Travis, 
but  the  generous  fellow,  to  whom  he  felt  in  honour  bound  to 
explain  his  conduct,  only  wrung  his  hand,  and  said  — 

"  I  could  not  resign  her  to  a  worthier." 


CHAPTER    THE    FORTY-SECOND. 


BLOWS. 

ICHARD  CHADWICK,  who 
had  served  as  a  midshipman 
under  Admiral  Collingwood, 
and  shared  in  the  victory  of 
Trafalgar,  was  a  midshipman 
still,  and  his  vessel  had  long 
been  away  on  a  foreign 
station.  Few,  brief,  and  far 
between  had  been  his  oppor- 
tunities to  visit  home  and 
friends.  Ships  had  been  paid 
off,  but  he  had  been  ex- 
changed, several  years  had 
elapsed  since  he  had  set  foot 
in  Manchester,  and  the  hearts 

of  his  kin  yearned  towards  their  sailor. 

His    very    whereabouts    was     unknown     to    them,    and    when 

written  communication  was  necessary,  letters  had  to  be  forwarded 

through  the  Admiralty. 

Ellen's  engagement    and    prospective    marriage    called    forth    a 

voluminous  epistle,   crossed  and  recrossed  like  a  trellis,   from  Mrs. 

Chadwick  to   her    son,    whose    presence    she   craved,    if    leave    of 

absence   could   possibly   be   obtained.      The   letter    was    a    singular 


AUGUSTA  DRESSING. 


39$  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

compound  of  gratulation  and  apology,  through  which  a  thin 
undercurrent  of  dissatisfaction  meandered  like  a  stream.  His 
sister's  strange  malady  and  infatuation  for  a  man  of  apparently 
low  origin,  whose  name  and  parentage  were  alike  unknown,  were 
set  forth  to  be  deplored.  Still,  since  the  sole  remedy  for  Ellen's 
ailment  rested  with  this  obscure  Mr.  Clegg,  whose  career  upwards, 
from  his  floating  cradle  to  his  honourable  position  in  the 
Ash  ton  house  and  warehouse,  was  circumstantially  detailed,  his 
personal  worth  was  a  matter  for  congratulation  ;  and  the  deep 
obligation  of  the  whole  family  to  him  for  the  service  rendered 
on  Peterloo  Day  seemed  dragged  in  as  a  sort  of  extenuating 
circumstance.  Clearly  the  Mr.  Travis,  whose  name  and  pre- 
tensions cropped  up  here  and  there  throughout  the  letter  would 
have  been  a  more  acceptable  son-in-law  in  the  sight  of  Mrs. 
Chad  wick  and  his  other  sister,  Charlotte  Walmsley,  and  just  as 
clearly  it  was  made  apparent  that  his  paralysed  father  (hale 
and  strong  in  all  other  respects)  was  as  much  infatuated  with  the 
young  man  as  was  Ellen,  having  "  positively  offered  to  take 
him  into  partnership  on  his  entrance  into  the  family."  And 
even  there  Mrs.  Chadwick  felt  "  constrained  to  admit  that  the 
clear  head,  business  tact,  and  energy  of  Mr.  Clegg  would  be  a 
great  acquisition." 

This  item  of  news  closed  the  missive,  which  must  have  gone 
a  circuitous  round  of  red  tape  it  was  so  long  upon  its  travels. 
Months  came  and  went ;  Father  Christmas  shook  his  snowy  locks 
over  the  town  ;  but  neither  the  midshipman  nor  a  written  substitute 
put  in  an  appearance. 

Meanwhile  Jabez,  who  had  crushed  down  in  the  garden  of  his 
heart  those  roots  of  his  love  for  Augusta  which  mocked  his 
strength  to  eradicate,  did  his  best  to  plant  and  foster  above 
them  a  grateful  affection  for  the  one  who  had  chosen  him,  and 
hoped  in  time  that  the  newer  growth  might  utterly  extinguish 


THE   MANCHESTER   MAN.  397 

the  old,  His  attentions  to  Ellen  were  more  assiduous  than,  under 
the  circumstances,  might  have  been  expected ,  but  he  argued  with 
himself — 

"I  must  endeavour  to  atone  to  her  for  a  proposal  in  which 
love  had  no  part  She  must  never  have  occasion  to  suspect  the 
truth.  I  should  be  a  brute  did  I  remain  insensible  to  the 
unconquerable  love  she  has  so  long  cherished  in  secret  for  me. 
Augusta's  face,  alas !  was  more  divinely  fair,  her  manner  more 
enchanting ;  but  Ellen,  though  she  is  older  than  myself,  will 
doubtless  make  the  better  wife  for  a  business  man  who  has  to 
carve  his  way  to  fortune,  and  she  loves  me!" 

Ellen,  too,  had  her  seasons  of  doubt  and  perplexity.  She 
had  been  so  sensitively  alive  to  the  silent  homage  of  Jabez 
Clegg  to  her  younger  and  fairer  cousin  that  at  first  her  mind 
had  refused  to  realise  the  fact  that  he  desired  to  marry  her, 
even  though  his  proposal  had  been  preceded  by  direct  and 
palpable  attention.  She  had  been  at  first  inclined  to  attribute 
his  many  acts  of  kindness  and  courtesy  to  friendship  and 
compassion  for  her  failing  health.  And  when  he  had  spoken 
of  being  won  by  her  many  estimable  qualities  to  seek  her  for 
a  wife,  she  had  listened  incredulously ;  then,  overpowered  by 
contending  emotions,  sank  back  amongst  her  cushions  in  a 
state  of  insensibility.  Even  her  tremulous  acceptance  had  been 
uttered  as  in  a  blissful  dream,  which  might  vanish  all  too 
soon.  From  time  to  time  she  perplexed  herself  with  questions 
of  the  motive  for  so  sudden  a  change  in  one  so  steadfast  as 
Jabez,  and  at  last  wavered  between  the  two  suppositions  that 
Augusta's  wilfulness  had  wearied  him,  or  that  she  owed  her 
lover  to  pique.  Of  the  real  state  of  the  case  she  had  no  inkling. 

She  was  not    alone   in   her   latter  supposition. 

"A  happy  new  year  to  you,  Mrs.  Clowes!"  said  our  friend 
Jabez  to  his  friend  the  old  confectioner,  as  at  one  stride  he  took 


398  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

the  two  steps  to  her  confined  shop  on  the  bright  frosty  second 
of  January,  1823,  and  extended  his  hand  to  her  across  the  counter, 
where  she  still  kept  up  a  show  of  activity  in  spite  of  age  and 
wrinkles. 

"Same  to  you,  Mr.  Clegg." 

She  had  been  one  of  the  first  to  recognise  his  right  to  the 
prefix,  and,  with  all  her  old-fashioned  familiarity,  never  dropped 
it. 

"Eh,  but  now  I  look  at  thee,  thah  doesn't  look  ower  bright 
an*  happy ; "  and  she  peered  into  his  face  inquiringly. 

He  smiled. 

"  Looks  are  not  always  to  be  relied  on.  I  ought  to  be 
happy,  for  I  am  about  to  be  married,  and  my  errand  hither  is 

to " 

She   interrupted   him   with — 

"So  I've  heard.  But  what  o'  that?  Is  she  th'  reet  un  ? 
For  I  wouldna  give  a  mince-pie  for  thi'  happiness  if  she  isna." 

The  blood    mounted   painfully  to   his  forehead. 

"  Miss  Chadwick  is  all  that  is  estimable  and  amiable,  Mrs. 
Clowes,"  he  answered  steadily,  "and  if  I  am  not  happy  with  her 
it  will  be  my  own  fault." 

The  old  dame  was  not  satisfied.  The  white  linen  lappets  of 
her  antiquated  mutch  flapped  like  a  spaniel's  ears  as  she  shook 
her  head. 

"Eh,  well!"  sighed  she,  opening  and  shutting  a  drawer  in  the 
counter  abstractedly,  "you  should  know  best,  but  both  me  and 
Parson  Brookes  (dead  and  gone  as  he  is)  thought  you'd  set  your 
mind  on  th'  lass  that  rantipollin  lad  Aspinall  snapped  up.  I  hope 
thah's  not  goin'  to  wed  th'  cousin  out  o'  spite,"  and  she  looked 
up  in  his  face,  over  which  a  cloud  had  swept.  "  It  would  be 
the  worst  day's  work  you  ever  did,  either  for  her  or  you." 

He  had  mastered  his  emotion,  and  answered  cheerfully — 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  399 

"  Make  your  mind  easy,  Mrs.  Clowes.  I  am  not  marrying  from 
any  unworthy  motive,  and  I  think  our  prospect  of  happiness  is 
about  the  average.  I  came  to  ask  you,  as  the  oldest  friend  I 
have  in  the  town,  to  be  present  on  the  occasion." 

Mrs.  Clowes  was  overpowered. 

"What!  Mr.  Clegg !  Me,  in  my  old  black  stuff  gown  and 
mutch,  among  your  grand  folk  ?  Nay,  nay ;  I'm  too  old  to  don 
weddin'  garments.  But  I  tell  you  what " — and  her  face  puckered 
with  pride  and  pleasure — "  you  shall  have  the  finest  wedding-cake 
that  ever  was  baked  i'  Manchester,  and  the  old  woman  will 
mebbe  look  on  the  weddin'  from  some  quiet  nook,  out  o'  the 
way.  It's  a  thousand  pities  Jotty  is  not  alive  to  marry  you." 

"  There  will  be  no  grand  folk,  Mrs.  Clowes ;  I  am  but  a  poor 
man  struggling  upwards,  and  Miss  Chadwick  has  not  had  good 
health  of  late ;  so  we  shall  be  married  very  quietly  on  Wednesday 
week.  Only  very  near  relatives  or  old  friends  are  invited." 

Customers  interrupted  the  colloquy.  When  the  shop  was  clear 
she  asked  where  he  was  going  to  live  after  marriage,  and  was 
told  with  his  bride's  parents. 

"  Eh !  but  that's  a  bad  look  out.  Now,  I've  built  some 
houses  in  a  new  street  off  Oxford  Road  as  they  call  Rosamond 
Street,  an'  I'll  tell  you  what,  you  shall  have  one  to  live  in  at 
a  peppercorn  rent,  and  I'll  lend  you  the  money  to  furnish  it. 
Young  folk  are  best  by  themselves." 

Clear  and  bright  were  the  eyes   that   met  hers  in   reply. 

"Thank  you,  Mrs.  Clowes,  thank  you  heartily  for  your  kind 
offer;  but  I  think  you  lose  sight  of  Mr.  Chadwick's  infirmity. 
He  has  acted  very  liberally  towards  me — in  fact,  has  offered  to 
take  me  into  partnership — and  I  should  ill  repay  him  by 
removing  from  his  hearth  the  good  daughter  on  whom  he 
relies.  It  is  rather  my  duty  to  add  to  the  comfort  of  his 
declining  years," 


4co  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

"  Oh ! "  said  she,  sharply,  "  if  that's  how  you  raise  your  crust 
I'd  best  keep  my  fingers  out  of  your  pie." 

Jabez  was  going.     The   shop   was   full. 

"  Stay,  Mr.  Clegg,"  said  she,  beckoning  him  into  her  parlour, 
and  closing  the  door.  "  It's  hard  cheese  for  a  man  to  owe 
everything  to  his  father-in-law.  I've  got  £500  hanging  on  hand. 
It's  not  much,  but  the  least  bit  of  capital  would  make  you  feel 
independent,  and  it's  heartily  at  your  service ;  and  if  you  don't 
like  to  take  it  without  interest  you  can  pay  me  one  per  cent, 
and  repay  me  when  you've  made  a  fortune ;  and  if  that  doesn't 
come  till  I  lay  under  a  stone  bed-quilt,  you  can  hand  it  over 
to  my  first  godchild." 

That  same  evening  Augusta  Aspinall  stood  before  a  large 
oval  swing-glass  in  her  luxurious  dressing-room,  the  blazing  fire 
shed  its  warm  glow  on  polished  furniture,  amber  silk  hangings, 
bright  fireirons,  costly  mirrors,  and  expensive  toilet  ware  (of 
execrable  shape).  She  was  robing  for  a  ball  at  the  Assembly 
Rooms,  and  Cicily,  who,  although  cook,  insisted  on  retaining  her 
post  as  lady's-maid  on  such  occasions,  had  just  fastened  the  last 
hook  of  a  delicate  lilac  figured  silk  as  soft  as  it  was  lustrous, 
with  swansdown  fringing  skirt,  sleeves,  and  bodice,  as  if  to  show 
how  fair  was  the  symmetrical  neck  of  the  wearer  to  stand  such 
test 

In  came  Laurence  fresh  from  the  Spread  Eagle  in  Hanging 
Ditch,  where  he,  a  newly-elected  member  of  the  Scramble  Club, 
had  spent  the  afternoon  with  one  or  two  others,  forgetful  that 
the  origin  of  the  club  was  the  fourpenny  pie  and  glass  of  ale, 
or  at  most  the  slice  from  a  joint  despatched  in  a  hurry  or 
"  scramble "  by  business  men  to  whom  time  was  money. 

Neither  time  nor  money  seemed  of  much  value  to  Mr.  Laurence, 
who  was  equally  lavish  with  both,  taking  as  much  from  his  father's 
business  and  adding  as  little  as  could  well  be  imagined.  His  step 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  401 

on    the   threshold    caused   Augusta    to   turn   round,    beaming    and 
beautiful,  and  dart  towards  him,  exclaiming — 

"  I'm  so  glad  you've  come ! "  simultaneously  with  his  "  Clear 
out,  Cis ! "  and  a  warm  embrace  which  somewhat  disarranged  the 
dainty  dress.  His  wife  was  yet  a  new  toy,  and  his  passion  had 
not  had  time  to  evaporate.  She  was  a  something  to  admire  and 
exhibit  for  admiration  as  a  possession  of  his  own  ;  and  though 
her  love  had  received  one  or  two  rude  shocks,  he  was  still  a 
glorified  being  in  her  eyes,  and  she  clung  to  him  as  a  true 
wife  should  cling.  She  was  still  but  a  girl  in  her  teens,  proud 
of  the  admiration  she  excited.  Disengaging  herself,  she  cried — 

"Oh,  Laurence,  see  how  you  have  crushed  my  swansdown! 
and  now,  dear,  do  make  haste  and  dress,  we  shall  be  so  late," 
and  putting  the  fluffy  trimming  in  order,  she  unlocked  a  small 
jewel  case  on  the  table,  and  took  thence  the  pearls  she  had  worn 
on  her  wedding-day. 

"  What  will  you  say  for  these,  Augusta  ? "  cried  he,  dangling 
before  her  eyes  a  gossamer  scarf  and  an  exquisite  ivory  fan, 
whilst  his  other  arm  thrown  over  her  white  shoulders  again 
threatened  the  elastic  down. 

"  Oh,  Laurence,  you  are  a  darling !  Where  did  those  beautiful 
things  come  from  ? "  and  she  gave  him  more  than  one  kiss  in 
payment. 

India,  my  love ;  they  are  '  far-fetched  and  dear-bought,'  and 
so  must  be  good  for  you,  my  lady.  I  met  your  uncle  Chadwick 
with  an  old  sea-captain,  from  whom  I  bought  them.  By  the 
way,  matrimony  seems  catching.  We  are  invited  to  a  wedding," 
and  he  began  leisurely  to  undress  as  he  spoke. 

"  A  wedding  !      Whose  ? " 

He   laughed. 

"Ah,  woman  all  over!  I  thought  I  had  news  for  you. 
Guess ! " 

PO 


402  THE     MANCHESTER     MAN. 

In  small  things  as  well  as  great  it  was  his  delight  to 
tantalise,  so  he  kept  her  guessing  whilst  he  proceeded  with  his 
toilet,  and  she  began  to  clasp  her  pearls  on  arms  and  neck,  and 
in  her  pretty  ears. 

"Well,"   said   he   at  length,   "who  but   your  cousin   Ellen!" 

"  Ellen  ?"  She  had  gone  so  little  near  her  own  family  that 
this  was  indeed  news  for  her. 

"Yes;  I  thought  she  meant  to  die  an  old  maid,  but  it  seems 
she's  not  too  proud  to  wear  your  cast-off  slippers." 

"My  cast-off  slippers  ?  What  do  you  mean?"  and  she  paused 
whilst  clasping  her  bracelet  with  a  look  of  bewildered  interrogation. 

"Now,  Augusta,  pray  don't  look  so  innocent!  Your  father's 
favourite  fetch-and-carry,  that  sneaking,  canting  fox,  Jabez  Clegg, 
finding  that  Miss  Ashton  was  a  sour  grape,  has  straightway 
gone  wooing  to  Miss  Ashton's  cousin  as  fruit  ripe  enough  and 

near  enough  to  drop  into  his  vulpine  jaws,  and,  by  G ,  the 

girl  has  had  no  more  spirit  than  to  drop  when  he  shook  the 
boughs,  rather  than  hang  on  untasted  !" 

The  speaker's  lip  and  nose  had  curled  with  contempt  as  he 
began,  then  his  nostril  dilated,  and  he  struck  his  wet  hand  on 
the  washstand  with  a  force  which  threatened  the  earthenware 
and  set  it  jingling. 

Augusta  was  not  yet  schooled  to  silence  ;  her  generous  spirit 
rose  to  repel  these  allegations. 

"  Oh,  Laurence,  how  can  you  ?  Ellen  has  had  plenty  of 
admirers ;  she  has  no  need  to  wear  anyone's  cast-off  shoes. 

And  as  for  Mr.  Clegg !  He  is  no  cast-off  slip  " she  checked 

herself;  a  thousand  trivial  and  forgotten  things  flashed  across 
her  mind  at  once ;  there  was  no  doubt  that  Jabez  had  aspired 
to  her  own  hand — he  must  have  offered  himself  to  Ellen  in 
pique,  to  look  as  if  he  didn't  care  ;  she  could  not  add  the  "of 
mine,"  which  should  have  rounded  her  sentence ;  she  substituted, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  403 

with  barely  a  moment's  pause,  "  He  is  neither  a  sneak  nor  a 
cant,  and  if  Ellen  marries  him  she  will  have  a  good  husband  ;" 
adding  with  marvellously  little  tact  or  knowledge  of  her  own 
husband,  "  I  am  sure,  Laurence,  dear,  you  have  no  right  to 
speak  ill  of  the  man  who  saved  your  life  in  the  very  pond  that 
is  frozen  over  now  before  our  doors !  And  you  cannot  really 
think  him  mercenary,  when  he  refused  the  £500  your  father 
offered  as  a  reward  for  his  bravery." 

Not  lightning  was  more  quick  and  scathing  than  the  fury 
which  flashed  from  her  husband's  eyes  and  almost  paralysed 
his  tongue  as  the  last  words  fell  from  her  lips.  With  the 
damp  towel  in  his  hand  he  struck  across  her  beautiful  bare 
shoulders  with  a  force  which  traced  red  lines  upon  their  snow ; 
then  marked  her  round  arm  with  a  band  as  red  by  tearing  away 
the  suspended  fan  and  scarf,  which  he  threw  behind  the  fire 
without  one  thought  of  either  "  far-fetched "  or  "  dear-bought." 

"Soh,  madam!"  he  hissed,  rather  than  spoke,  whilst  Augusta 
shrank  from  him  in  affright,  "  soh !  you  dare  defend  the  wretch 
who  played  the  spy  on  us  at  Carr — attacked  me,  an  unarmed 
man,  with  a  stick,  like  a  coward,  and  left  me  bleeding  there  for 
dead,  hoping  to  win  the  heiress  for  himself!" 

From  her  father  and  Cicily  both  she  had  gathered  the  truth 
of  that  night's  exploits.  His  misrepresentations  no  longer 
misled  ;  but  for  very  fear  she  held  her  peace.  He  went  on — 

"  Madam,  that  night's  savage  attack  cancelled  every  debt  of 
gratitude  I  owed  the  calculating  knave  who  turned  his  back  on 
my  father's  £500,  thinking  to  multiply  it  by  thousands  from 
your  father  !" 

"It  is  not  true!"  she  dared  to  say,  her  sense  of  justice  and 
her  spirit  of  resistance  rising  in  defence  of  one  she  knew  to  be 
foully  aspersed.  Not  because  he  was  Jabez  Clegg,  but  because 
he  was  an  absentee  maligned, 


404  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

A  shriek  rang  through  the  big  house,  and  servants  came 
scurrying  up,  with  Mr.  Aspinall  in  their  midst;  and  Cicily,  the 
first  to  dash  between  them,  caught  on  her  well-covered  back  the 
blow  from  the  madman's  brace,  which  would  else  have  fallen 
afresh  on  the  naked  shoulders  of  his  wife,  already  scored  by  it 
with  livid  welts. 

Carry  away  the  fainting  lady — soothe  the  infuriated  savage — 
apply  raw  beef  to  shoulders  as  red,  if  not  as  raw — let  the  brute 
steep  himself  in  brandy  unto  stupefaction.  The  morning  will 
come,  when  the  fumes  of  passion  and  brandy  will  alike  have 
passed  away,  and  the  man  will  repent  him  of  his  cruelty.  But 
the  sting  of  groundless  jealousy  will  remain,  and  the  broad  livid 
stripes  across  the  white  shoulders.  Time  and  care  will  efface 
those  marks,  but  neither  kisses,  nor  caresses,  nor  presents,  nor 
time  itself  can  obliterate  the  hieroglyphics  stamped  with  that 
buckskin  brace  on  the  young  wife's  heart.  He  has  fixed  the  name 
of  Jabez  Clegg  there,  and  in  conjunction  "  brute "  and  "  liar,"  as 
equivalent  to  his  own. 

It  might  have  been  expected  after  this  that  the  Aspinalls 
would  have  been  conspicuous  by  their  absence  from  the  cousin's 
wedding,  or  that  Augusta  might  have  laid  her  wrongs  before 
her  mother.  But,  no ;  your  jealous  man  never  spares  himself  a 
pang  if  he  hopes  to  inflict  one ;  and  the  wilful  woman  who  finds 
she  has  made  a  mistake  in  marriage  is  the  last  to  confess  it. 

Cold  weather  and  recent  indisposition  served  as  an  apology 
for  the  violet  velvet  spencer  which,  worn  above  the  pale  lilac  silk, 
covered  bust  and  neck ;  and  it  was  far  from  unbecoming  to  the 
young  matron  or  the  occasion. 

Old  Mrs.  Clowes — who  had  kept  her  word  anent  the  cake, 
which  was  a  triumph  of  confectionery  skill — from  some  long- 
closed  coffer  brought  forth  a  stiff  brocade  of  ancient  make  and 
texture,  placed  a  bonnet  on  her  unaccustomed  head,  and  from  a 


GEORGE    PILKINGTON. 
From   a    Photograph. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  405 

far  seat  in  the  choir  watched  Jabez  Clegg  enter  with  his  college 
friend  and  groomsman,  stalwart  George  Pilkington,  though  she 
did  not  see  them  linger  to  read  the  inscription  over  the  grave 
of  Joshua  Brookes,  or  look  up  with  grateful  remembrance  to  the 
Chetham  Gallery,  where  they  had  worshipped  together.  But  she 
remembered  them  as  boys  in  long  blue  gowns  and  yellow  under- 
skirts, and  could  not  help  contrasting  the  college  dress  of  the 
past  with  the  high-collared  bright  blue  coats,  the  gilt  buttons, 
lemon-coloured  vests,  light  trousers,  and  white  kid  gloves,  in  which 
they  found  their  way  to  her  to  shake  hands,  whilst  waiting  for 
the  trembling  white-robed  bride  and  her  friends. 

And  there  Mrs.  Clowes  sat  and  listened  to  the  irrevocable 
words  which  bound  Jabez  to  "  love  and  cherish "  the  woman  who 
loved  him  with  her  whole  soul;  whilst  in  spite  of  himself  his  very 
brain  was  reeling  with  memories  of  that  other  wedding-day, 
when  Laurence  Aspinall  and  Augusta  Ashton,  now  standing  calm 
and  beautiful  in  the  background,  had  breathed  the  selfsame  vows 
before  that  altar;  and  somehow  the  old  dame  had  a  secret 
misgiving  when  all  was  'over  that  it  was  "  not  the  reet  one 
after  all." 

"All  over!"  had  been  the  cry  from  the  heart  of  Jabez  then. 
"All  over!"  was  the  echo  now,  as  the  last  "Amen"  sounded, 
and  he  registered  a  silent  oath,  not  down  in  the  rubric,  to  keep 
the  troth  he  had  plighted,  although  no  electric  thrill  answered 
the  shy  touch  of  Ellen's  hand,  or  the  dumb  devotion  of  her  glance, 
and  although  Augusta's  greeting  of  her  new  "  cousin "  jarred  a 
still  sensitive  nerve. 

All  over!  so  men  delude  themselves.  "All  over!"  they  say, 
when  disappointment  closes  the  door  of  the  past,  and  veils  their 
eyes  to  the  vista  of  the  future.  "All  over!"  when  the  curtain 
falls  on  the  prologue  of  life's  drama.  Yet  it  rises  again,  and  they 
find  that  the  play  has  but  just  begun. 


CHAPTER    THE    FORTY-THIRD. 


PARTNERSHIP. 

Y  dint  of  persuasion  old  Mrs.  Clowes  was  induced  to 
place  her  well-saved  brocade  at  the  table  graced  by 
the  wedding-cake  she  had  manufactured ;  though,  as 
she  afterwards  said  confidentially  to  Jabez,  "  I  must 
have  had  as  much  brass  in  my  face  as  I  had  i'  my  pocket  to 
sit  down  cheek-by-jowl  wi'  grand  folks  with  foine  manners,  who 
might  come  into  my  shop  th'  next  day  to  be  served  with  a 
pound  o'  gingerbread ;  but  I'd  not  ha'  missed  Mester  Ashton's 
toast  for  summat.  And  I  don't  know  as  annybody  turned  up  a 
nose  bout  it  wur  that  spark  Aspinall,  who  owes  me  for  manny 
a  quarter  a  pound  of  humbugs." 

Round  that  hospitable  and  substantial  wedding  breakfast, 
which  owed  much  of  its  success  to  the  bride's  own  deft  fingers, 
also  gathered  the  Cloughs,  who  had  watched  the  career  of  the 
bridegroom  with  interest  from  his  cradle — Miss  Clough  as 
bridesmaid  ;  Mr.  John  M'Connell  and  Henry  Liverseege,  who  had 
cultivated  his  friendship  from  their  first  introduction ;  John 
Walmsley  and  Charlotte,  who  privately  chafed  at  his  reception 
into  the  family ;  and  Augusta,  whose  brilliancy  was  somewhat 
dimmed  by  the  overt  watchfulness  of  too  courteous  and  attentive 
Laurence ;  but  there  was  no  Ben  Travis,  and  missing  him,  Jabez 
was  disposed  to  gravity.  But  though  there  were  uncongenial 
elements  present,  George  Pilkington's  cheery  voice  and  lively 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  407 

sallies  sufficed  to  set  mirth  afoot  and  keep  her  dancing ;  whilst 
Mrs.  Ashton,  stately  and  proverbial,  seemed  to  share  some 
pleasant  secret  with  which  Mr.  Chadwick  and  her  husband  were 
on  the  qui  vive. 

It  was  the  age  for  toasts  and  sentiments.  Some  smart  and 
witty  things  had  been  uttered,  but  not  until  the  cake  was  cut 
and  commended,  and  a  post-chaise  at  the  door  waited  to  convey 
the  newly-married  pair  to  Carr  Cottage  and  the  earliest  friends 
of  the  bridegroom,  did  Mr.  Ashton  rise  to  his  feet,  snuff-box 
in  hand,  and,  with  a  merry  twinkle  in  his  eye,  propose — 

"  Success   to   the   new  partnership  ! " 

"  Stop,  my  friends ! "  said  he,  as  glasses  were  elevated  in 
honour  of  the  toast ;  perhaps  I  had  better  explain  what  is  meant 
by  the  new  partnership." 

"  I  should  think  that  was  pretty  obvious,"  whispered 
Laurence  to  his  friend  Walmsley  across  the  table,  but  he 
changed  his  opinion  presently. 

"  There  are  partnerships  for  life,"  continued  Mr.  Ashton, 
"where  the  contract  is  attested  in  church,  as  we  have  had  the 
pleasure  of  witnessing  to-day,  and,  I  am  sure,  with  the  best  of 
wishes  for  its  success ;  and  there  are  partnerships  in  business, 
which  are  usually  signed,  sealed,  and  attested  in  a  lawyer's 
office ;  and  it  is  to  such  a  one  I  now  refer,  in  conjunction  with 
the  former." 

He  paused  to  consult  his  snuff-box,  and  smiled  to  see 
how  suddenly  inattentive  heads  were  eagerly  bent  forward  to 
listen. 

"  It  may  not  be  generally  known  that  my  dear  nephew  Jabez, 
at  the  close  of  his  honourable  apprenticeship,  declined  an  eligible 
offer  from  brother  Chadwick,  in  order  to  remain  with  us." 

(Walmsley  and  Aspinall  exchanged  glances.  Mrs.  Clowes  looked 
knowing.) 


408  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

"It  may  not  be  generally  known  that  he  has  a  small  amount 
of  capital  invested  in  our  concern  at  present." 

("  Small   enough,    I   should   say,"   muttered   Laurence.) 

"  Now,  there  being  no  likelihood  that  his  son  Richard  will 
ever  leave  his  ship  for  a  warehouse,  Mr.  Chadwick  proposed  to 
take  his  son-in-law  Jabez  into  equal  partnership,  considering  his 
integrity,  his  business  tact,  and  energy  to  be  equivalent  to 
capital." 

"  Hear !  hear ! "  in  which  Mr.  Chadwick's  stumbling  tongue  was 
loudest,  and  "Success  to  the  new  partnership!" 

(The  snuff-box  closed,  the  bandana  was  disposed  of,  the  speaker's 
beaming  face  was  all  in  a  glow.) 

"  Stop !  stop !  gentlemen !  not  so  fast,  You  will  have  to  fill 
your  glasses  afresh.  We  have  not  yet  got  to  the  new  partnership." 

("What  the  d 1  is  he  driving  at?"  was  Aspinall's  polite 

query  to  Walmsley,  who  shook  his  head  in  token  of  ignorance.) 

"Brother  Chadwick  had  concluded  that  Mr.  Clegg  was  wholly 
without  capital,  whereas  he  happens  to  have  more  than  a 
thousand  pounds  at  his  disposal." 

(Broadcloth  made  sudden  acquaintance  with  chair  backs. 
George  Pilkington  grasped  his  friend's  hand ;  there  was  a 
puckering  of  Mrs.  Clowes's  wrinkles ;  there  were  lowering  brows 
from  Laurence  and  John.) 

"And  Mr.  Clegg  being  perfectly  satisfied  with  his  present 
investment,  and  anxious  to  join  the  gingham  manufacturer  without 
quitting  the  smallware  manufacturer,  proposed  "—pinch  of  snuff— 
"that  the  two  concerns  should  be  amalgamated,  and  he  have  a 
share.  Gentlemen  and  ladies,  the  proposal  was  hailed  as  an 
inspiration;  and,  as  soon  as  the  change  can  be  legally  effected, 
the  firm  will  be  gazetted  as  '  Ashton,  Chadwick,  and  Clegg!' 
And  now  let  us  drink— '  Success  to  the  new  partnerships, 
matrimonial  and  commercial !  " 


THE   MANCHESTER    MAN.  409 

Aspinall's  voice  alone  remained  silent  amongst  the  enthusiastic 
cheers  with  which  the  toast  was  drunk.  Ellen,  with  humid  eyes, 
escaped  to  change  her  garments,  and  Augusta  also  rose;  but  as 
she  passed  the  new  Manchester  man,  around  whom  friends 
crowded  with  congratulations,  she  put  out  her  hand  with  a  smile, 
and  said,  "Cousin  Jabez,  I  wish  success  to  both  your  partnerships 
with  all  my  heart." 

Laurence  was  at  her  elbow,  apparently  to  lead  her  with 
courteous  ceremony  from  the  room,  and  whilst  offering  one  hand 
with  a  graceful  inclination  of  his  head,  he  contrived  with  the 
other  to  pinch  the  upper  part  of  her  arm,  and  to  whisper  in  her 
ear,  between  his  set  teeth — 

"  D — n   you,   madam  !     You   shall   smart  for  this  ! " 

An  irrepressible  ejaculation  of  pain  burst  from  her.  More 
than  one  turned  round.  There  was  real  concern  on  the  brow 
of  Jabez  as  he  asked — 

"What  is   the   matter,   Mrs.   Aspinall?     Are   you   hurt?" 

She   made   light   of  it. 

"  Oh,  nothing,  nothing.  I  struck  my  foot  against  a  chair — 
that  was  all." 

But  Jabez  saw  the  white,  frightened  face,  and  felt  there  was 
something  more ;  and  that  scared  look  haunted  him  for  many  a  day. 

Laurence  attended  his  wife  to  the  staircase,  smiling  blandly 
whilst  within  sight  or  earshot.  Ere  he  left  her  at  the  stairfoot 
he  gripped  her  tiny  hand  till  her  jewelled  rings  cut  the  flesh ; 
and  the  smile  became  satanic  as  he  whispered — 

"You  are  discreet,  madam.  I  charge  you  to  remain  so — for 
your  life ! " 

Once  in  Ellen's  crowded  bedchamber  she  became  hysterical, 
to  her  cousin's  great  grief.  But  she  overmastered  her  emotion 
by  a  violent  effort,  excused  it  on  the  plea  of  recent  indisposition, 
and  was  consoled  by  her  mother  and  other  sagacious  matrons 


410  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

with  the  remark  that  such  affections  might  be  expected.  The 
newly-married  pair  were  whirled  away  down  Oldham  Street  and 
up  Piccadilly ;  old  Mrs.  Clowes  took  her  departure,  and  then 
Augusta,  acting  on  Mrs.  Clough's  advice,  lay  on  the  drawing- 
room  sofa  to  rest. 

Not  until  night  did  the  guests  depart,  Mr.  Liverseege  being 
the  first  to  retire.  There  was  a  late  dinner  at  six  o'clock,  and 
when  the  gentlemen  rose  from  their  post-prandial  wine,  and 
sought  the  drawing-room,  all  considerably  elevated,  Laurence 
Aspinall  was  too  intoxicated  to  move.  The  Aspinall  carriage 
had  been  waiting  an  hour.  The  coachman  and  Bob  the  groom 
grew  anxious  and  impatient  about  the  horses. 

"  Mr.  Laurence  drunk  ?  Eh !  that  matters  nowt ! "  exclaimed 
the  latter.  "  Steve  an'  me  '11  manage  him."  And  taking  the 
limp  young  Hercules  between  them,  they  somehow  hauled  him 
to  the  carriage,  and  ensconced  him  in  one  corner,  with  his  head 
drooping  on  his  breast. 

Augusta  shrank  from  joining  him,  afraid  lest  he  should  awake 
to  malicious  consciousness  on  the  road. 

"  Oh !  I  dare  not  go  home  with  him !  Indeed,  I  dare  not  go 
home  with  him  ! " 

"  My  dear,"  said  her  mother  gravely,  "  I  am  afraid  you  must. 
A  wife  cannot  absent  herself  from  home  because  her  lord  and 
master  indulges  in  too  much  wine,  even  though  he  may 
occasionally  make  a  beast  of  himself.  It  is  too  late  to  think 
of  this  now.  What  cannot  be  cured  must  be  endured.  As  you 
made  your  own  bed,  you  will  have  to  lie  on  it  to  the  end. 
Those  who  leave  the  spring  for  the  stream  must  expect  muddy 
water.  However,  there  is  nothing  so  bad  but  it  might  be  worse. 
Once  is  not  always,  and  love  overlooks  lapses." 

Augusta's  persistence  that  she  dared  not  be  "shut  up  with 
him  alone,"  caused  Mrs.  Ashton  to  say — 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  411 

"  Well,  my  daughter,  the  occasion  has  been  so  unusual  that 
even  your  own  father  has  taken  more  wine  than  his  wont,  or  he 
might  bear  you  company.  That  groom  seems  a  steady  man  ; 
suppose  he  rides  inside  to  support  his  master ;  and,  whatever 
you  do,  remember  when  wine  is  in  wit  is  out;  silence  is  a  wife's 
safeguard,  and  you  will  have  to  make  the  best  of  a  bad  bargain." 

A  month  back  Augusta  would  have  tossed  her  head,  and 
laughed  lightly  at  her  mother's  pet  philosophy.  That  night  she 
rode  home  from  Jabez  Clegg's  wedding  feast  with  a  groom  and  a 
drunken  man,  pondering  whether  spirited  resentment  or  tame 
submission  was  her  best  course.  The  morning  dawned  on  a  wife 
pinched  black  and  blue,  with  hardly  strength  or  spirit  to  sob. 

Then  followed  a  reaction,  and  a  period  of  remorseful  uxorious 
penitence,  during  which  Laurence  submitted  with  a  tolerable 
grace  to  a  lecture  from  Mr.  Aspinall,  senior,  who  saw  that  something 
was  amiss ;  and  chivalrous  gallantry  towards  woman  being  part 
of  this  gentleman's  creed,  he  did  not  spare  his  son. 

Nor  did  Laurence  spare  himself.  He  knelt  at  his  wife's  feet, 
called  her  "an  angel,"  and  himself  "a  savage,"  implored  her 
forgiveness,  excused  his  jealousy  on  the  ground  of  passionate 
love,  lavished  his  means  on  extravagant  gifts  for  her,  and 
exhausted  language  in  fair  promises.  But  so  proud  was  he  of 
his  wife's  beauty,  that  he  must  needs  exhibit  at  theatre  and 
assembly  the  jewel  he  had  won;  whilst  the  admiration  she  excited 
set  his  jealous  brain  on  fire,  and  she  paid  the  penalty  in  the 
silence  of  night,  or  even  in  the  close  carriage  driving  home. 

But  his  contrition  and  the  old  plea  of  "excessive  love"  for  his 
jealous  infirmity  won  her  over,  and  not  even  Cicily  more  than 
suspected  half  his  cruelty. 

****** 

Great  preparations  had  been  made  at  Whaley  Bridge  for  the 
reception  of  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Clegg  ;  the  factory  windows  were  extra 


412  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

burnished;  the  landlord  of  the  "White  Hart"  hoisted  a  flag; 
the  mill-hands  lined  the  road  to  greet  them ;  the  avenue  gate 
was  thrown  open  that  the  chaise  might  drive  on  to  the  cottage; 
somebody  had  put  Crazy  Joe  into  a  new  suit  of  clothes  for  the 
occasion,  and  he  stood  by  the  side  of  little  Sim  on  the  step  of 
the  Gothic  arch  (the  greater  child  of  the  twain)  to  laugh  and 
chuckle  a  welcome,  as  sincere  in  its  way  as  the  homely  greetings 
of  the  orphan's  fosterers. 

It  was  a  fine  stalwart  young  man,  of  open  but  grave 
countenance,  around  whom  Bess  threw  her  motherly  arms, 
while  Tom  Hulme  helped  the  bride  to  alight,  and  marshalled 
the  way  for  the  pair,  who  followed  arm-in-arm  into  the 
house-place,  where  Simon,  stiff  with  age  and  rheumatism, 
kept  possession  of  the  padded  chair  set  apart  for  the  sick  or 
aged. 

In  some  way  the  knowledge  that  Mr.  Clegg  came  as  a  master, 
and  not  as  a  servant,  had  preceded  him. 

"  Eh,  Jabez,  lad,"  exclaimed  Simon,  tears  of  joy  coursing  down 
his  cheeks,  "  that  aw  should  ever  live  to  see  this  day !  Would 
annyone  ha'  thowt  as  th'  little  lass  at'  played  wi'  ar  Jabez  an' 
his  toys,  an1  kissed  him  when  he  wur  a  babby,  would  come  to 
wed  him  when  he  wur  a  mon — an'  a  gentlemen  into  th'  bargain  ! 
An'  neaw  let  thi  wife  goo  an*  tak'  off  her  pelisse  while  thah  talks 
to  me ;  hoo'll  be  tired  wi'  th'  lung  journey,  aw  reckon.  Theere's  a 
fire  i'  th'  best  parlour,  that's  th'  place  fur  gentlefolk,  an'  yo'r 
supper's  laid  theer." 

Old  Simon  naturally  concluded  that  young  lovers  wanted  no 
society  but  each  other.  On  five-year-old  Sim  such  a  consciousness 
had  not  yet  dawned,  and  so  he  penetrated  into  the  "best  parlour," 
and,  much  to  the  relief  of  the  bridegroom,  broke  into  that  first 
domestic  tete-a-tete  to  exhibit  some  wonderful  pictures  he  had  drawn 
with  red  ruddle  picked  from  the  gravel-path. 


MAN    AND    WIFE. 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN.  413 

They  had  been  at  Carr  Cottage  little  more  than  ten  days  or  a 
fortnight,  the  first  week  being  wet ;  Jabez,  without  neglecting 
Ellen,  busied  himself  with  contemplated  changes  and  improvements 
at  the  mill,  and  thus  the  great  bane  of  the  modern  honeymoon 
was  avoided.  The  occupation  thus  found  for  the  mind  and  hand 
of  Jabez  at  that  particular  epoch  of  his  life  was  a  blessing  for 
which  Ellen  had  need  to  be  thankful  in  after  years,  if  she  had 
but  known  it. 

As  it  was,  she  did  fancy  he  might  have  given  her  a  little 
more  of  his  time,  and  not  have  needed  her  suggestion  to  re-visit 
Taxal  and  the  spot  where  he  had  wooed  her  for  another,  and 
not  for  himself.  Yet  a  very  slight  hint  was  sufficient,  and,  taking 
advantage  of  a  clear,  dry  day,  the  two  re-trod  the  old  path  by 
the  Goyt,  which  awoke  reminiscences  that  could  but  be  flattering 
to  that  self-love  of  which  every  human  being  has  a  share. 

Sitting  down  as  man  and  wife  on  the  lightning-scathed  tree- 
trunk,  which  had  never  been  removed,  he  remembered  the 
confession  wrung  from  her  agony  on  that  very  spot.  His  arm 
stole  round  her  waist  in  the  pitiful  compassion  it  evoked.  A 
new  emotion  stirred  within  his  breast.  He  folded  his  wife  in 
his  arms,  and  pressed  upon  her  answering  lips  his  first  spon- 
taneous kiss  of  dawning  affection. 

Half-way  home  they  were  met  by  Crazy  Joe,  who  had  been 
sent  to  seek  them.  A  consecutive  message  was  beyond  his 
grasp.  All  they  could  make  out  was,  "Back!  Sharp!  Quick!" 
And,  hastening  on  in  alarm,  they  at  length  discerned  Mr.  Ashton 
at  the  gate,  on  the  look-out.  His  pleasant  nod  was  reassuring. 

"  My  dear,"  he  cried  to  Ellen,  as  they  advanced,  "  Dick  has 
got  his  promotion  at  last ;  Lieutenant  Chadwick  has  been  duly 
gazetted.  Here  is  his  letter  to  your  mother,  dated  from  Mai — 
Stop,  my  dear!" — Ellen  had  put  out  her  hand  for  the  thick, 
heavy  missive — "A  communication  which  called  your  old  uncle 


4H  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Ashton  out  of  his  way  to  act  as  courier  is  not  to  be  dealt 
with  lightly.  And  before  it  is  read  I  must  know  whether  you 
would  rather  be  Mrs.  Clegg  or  Mrs.  Travis  ?" 

Closer  she   clung   to   the  arm  of  Jabez. 

"Oh,   uncle!      How  can   you   ask?" 

There   was   a   sly   gleam   in   the   corner   of  his   eye. 

"Ah!    just   so.      That's   it.       How  can   I   ask?" 

But  his  face  sobered.     He  handed  the  letter  to  his  new  nephew. 

"Jabez,  I  think  you  had  better  carry  it  to  your  own  room 
for  private  perusal.  I  will  communicate  its  contents  to  all 
whom  it  may  concern  besides." 

Jabez  had  deep  feelings,  though  he  was  not  demonstrative, 
and  long  before  he  had  mastered  its  contents  he  was  thankful 
for  the  delicacy  which  had  spared  him  an  open  display  of 
irrepressible  emotion. 

The  writer,  who  was  stationed  at  Malta,  after  dwelling  on 
his  own  promotion,  and  answering  sundry  maternal  questions 
relative  to  himself,  went  on  to  say — 

"  And  so  our  Nell's  going  to  be  married.  Well,  it's  about 
time — she'll  be  twenty-six  next  April,  or  I've  lost  my  reckoning. 

"And  so  she  was  fretting  herself  to  fiddle-strings  for  a  fellow 
younger  than  herself,  and  without  a  shilling  or  a  name,  when 
she  might  have  had  a  finer  fellow,  with  name  and  shiners  to 
boot.  Bravo !  Nell,  for  choosing  a  brave  lad  instead  of  a 
money-bag!  She's  the  sister  for  a  sailor,  whatever  Charlotte 
may  think. 

"But  your  story  of  the  flood  and  the  cradle,  and  your  mention 
of  Mr.  Travis,  coming  both  together,  recall  a  story  I  had 
forgotten,  which  may  perhaps  furnish  a  name  for  Nell's  hero  of 
the  Irk  and  Peterloo. 

"We  had  a  broad-set  sailor  on  board  the  Royal  Sovereign, 
who  was  always  getting  into  scrapes  for  chalking  caricatures  of 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  4*5 

the  officers  on  the  bunks  and  cabin-doors ;  but  there  wasn't  a 
man  fore  or  aft  that  hadn't  at  some  time  or  other  coaxed  a 
picture  or  portrait  out  of  him,  to  send  to  mother  or  sweetheart, 
and  never  a  Jack  Tar  amongst  them  would  split  on  good- 
natured  Ben  Travis." 

Down  dropped  the  shaking  hand  that  held  the  letter.  Ben 
Travis !  What  strange  coincidence  was  this  ? 

"  His  father  had  been  a  Liverpool  shipbroker,  and  Ben  took 
to  me  because  I  was  a  Lancashire  lad  like  himself,  though  he 
was  old  enough  to  be  my  father.  He  had  been  pressed,  and 
as  I  was  the  youngest  middy,  and  he  the  master  of  the 
forecastle,  many  a  time  had  he  told  me  the  sad  story  of  his 
life.  His  father  had  died  without  a  will,  and  Ned,  his  eldest 
brother,  had  laid  his  clutches  on  everything  but  a  hundred 
pounds  or  so,  which  had  been  the  mother's.  Ben  turned  his 
back  on  Liverpool  and  his  brother,  and  being  smart  with  his 
pencil,  took  to  that  to  get  a  living.  He  wandered  about  to 
pick  up  bits  of  scenery,  and  at  Crumpsall  fell  in  with  a  widow 
and  her  daughter,  both  named  Ann  Crompton,  and  went  to 
lodge  with  them.  After  a  while  he  married  the  lass,  and 
thinking  if  he  meant  to  earn  a  living  for  his  wife  and  the 
child  that  was  coming  he'd  best  seek  a  large  town,  he  removed 
to  Manchester,  and  took  an  old  cottage  in  Smedley  Vale,  where 
he  hoped  to  turn  his  talent  to  account." 

The  paper  rattled,  and  Jabez  leaned  against  the  window- 
frame,  as  much  for  support  as  light,  as  he  read  on  with  panting 
lips. 

*'  He  tried  portrait-painting,  but  lacked  a  patron ;  he  turned 
his  head  to  pattern-designing,  but  no  one  would  employ  a  raw 
beginner.  His  money  was  dwindling,  and  a  birth  was  near  at 
hand.  He  doted  on  his  wife,  and  for  her  sake  wrote  to  his 
brother,  who  was  married  when  their  father  died.  Ned  wrote 


416  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN, 

back  enclosing  a  bank-note,  and  begging  to  see  him  at  once. 
His  wife  had  died,  leaving  a  baby-boy,  whom  he  had  christened 
Ben,  after  his  runaway  brother.  Ned  said  her  loss  was  killing 
him,  and  he  wished  to  leave  his  boy  in  his  brother's  care  before  he 
died.  Poor  Ben  Travis  kissed  his  wife,  and  went  by  coach  to 
Liverpool.  Before  he  could  reach  his  brother's  office  in  Castle 
Street,  near  the  docks,  he  was  pounced  upon  by  a  pressgang, 
dragged  on  board  a  ship  in  the  Mersey,  and  never  saw 
brother,  or  wife,  or  home  again.  I  have  seen  Ben's  tears  roll 
down  his  weather-beaten  cheeks  many  a  time  as  he  told  this.  He 
was  one  of  the  first  sent  down  to  the  cock-pit  at  the  battle  of 
Trafalgar,  and  when  Admiral  Nelson's  glorious  remains  went  home 
to  be  buried,  Ben  went  likewise,  to  hospital,  and  I  lost  sight  of 
him.  When  I  was  exchanged  to  the  Excellent,  Ben  turned  up 
again,  hearty,  but  aged  with  grief.  He  had  sought  his  dear  ones, 
but  a  flood  had  swept  through  Smedley  Vale  in  1799,  and  left 
no  trace  of  his  home.  A  man  at  the  dye-works  remembered 
something  about  an  old  woman  they  called  stiff-backed  Nan 
being  killed  by  the  falling  house  in  trying  to  save  a  baby ;  but 
Ben  could  learn  no  more,  and  his  own  impression  was  that  wife, 
child,  and  mother-in-law  had  perished  in  the  same  catastrophe, 
He  went  to  Liverpool.  Death  had  swept  off  his  brother ;  executors 
swept  off  the  son  Ben,  his  namesake.  He  went  back  to  sea,  and 
I  saw  the  brave  Ben  Travis  drowned  in  trying  to  save  a  bumboat 
woman,  who  fell  overboard  off  Spithead. 

"  And  now,  mother,  you  used  to  be  a  good  hand  at  patchwork — 
piece  my  story  and  your  story  together,  and  see  if  Ellen's  poor 
cradle-friend  is  not  near  of  kin  to  your  rich  friend,  Mr.  Benjamin 
Travis,  with  quite  as  good  a  right  to  be  called  Mr.  Travis  too. 

"I  should  have  a  rough  sketch  of  the  old  sailor,  drawn  with 
a  quid  of  'bacca  on  the  fly-leaf  of  his  Prayer-book,  I'll  look  it 
up  for  Nell." 


CHAPTER    THE    FORTY-FOURTH. 

MAN  AND  BEAST. 

OHE  January  twilight  had  deepened  into  dusk,  and  from 
dusk  to  dark,  before    Jabez   was  sufficiently   master  of 
himself  to  descend  into  the  light  of   the   rooms  below. 
Whatever    of     surprise    or    satisfaction      Richard 
Chadwick's   letter  had  held  for  him,  a  wave  of  sorrow  had  passed 
over   soul  and   countenance  for  the   sad   fate  of  the   parents  whom 
he  had  never  known.     As  his  footstep  was  heard   overhead,  Ellen 
flew   to  meet  him  at  the   foot  of  the   staircase,   and   threw  herself 
into   his  arms. 

"My  love!  my  own  husband!"  was  all  she  said,  but  such  an 
intensity  of  devotion  and  sympathy  was  in  the  act  and  tone  that 
he  felt  he  had  indeed  a  true  heart  beating  with  his  as  he  held 
her  close,  and  his  lips  touched  her  forehead  as  a  seal  to  a 
new  bond. 

It  was  but  a  single  step  to  the  parlour  door,  which  opened  on 
a  room  all  aglow  with  light,  and  radiant  faces.  On  Mr.  Ashton's 
inspiriting,  Simon's  easy  chair  had  been  wheeled  in  from  the 
house-place,  there  being  no  stately  Mrs.  Ashton  at  hand  to  demur 
at  the  innovation,  or  to  whisper  a  syllable  of  class  distinctions. 
And  surely  that  was  not — yes,  it  was — Ben  Travis  himself  standing 
by  the  rheumatic  old  tanner,  with  both  hands  outstretched,  to 
greet  a  new  cousin  in  his  long-time  friend.  And  there  was  Bess, 
proudly  glancing  from  his  face  to  a  piece  of  yellow  paper.  "  It's 

EE 


418  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

as  like  as  two  peas,"  she  cried  for  the  twentieth  time,  handing 
to  her  tall  foster-son  a  sketch  which,  though  little  more  than  a 
succession  of  brown  smears,  was  a  ludicrous  resemblance  to 
himself. 

"Well,  Jabez,"  said  Mr.  Ashton,  sitting  by  the  fire,  with  his 
handkerchief  over  his  knee,  after  the  first  hubbub  of  congratulation 
had  subsided,  "it  is  as  well  our  new  partnership  has  not  been 
gazetted.  I  suppose  there  will  have  to  be  a  change  of  name, 
and  Ellen  there  will  be  Mrs.  Travis  after  all." 

This  was  but  a  playful  sally  on  his  part,  but  Ben  Travis 
visibly  winced,  and  quick-eyed  Jabez  saw  it. 

"  No,  sir,"  replied  Jabez,  calmly,  with  his  hand  on  his  wife's 
shoulder,  "  there  will  be  no  change.  I  bear  the  name  of  the  kind 
friends  who  saved  my  infant  life  ;  fed,  clothed,  and  kept  me 
through  evil  report  and  good  report,  through  pinching  poverty, 
privation,  and  pain"  (he  glanced  towards  Bess);  "as  Jabez  Clegg 
I  was  enrolled  as  a  Blue-coat  boy ;  as  Jabez  Clegg  I  was 
apprenticed  to  you,  sir ;  as  Jabez  Clegg  I  married  my  wife  ;  as 
Jabez  Clegg  I  have  been  honoured  with  a  place  in  your  firm  ; 
and  Jabez  Clegg  shall  go  with  me  to  the  grave.  I  had  no 
name  when  that  good  man "  (pointing  to  Simon)  "  lent  me  his  ; 
time  has  made  it  mine,  and  I  mean  to  keep  it  as  honourable 
as  it  came  to  me."  He  looked  down :  "  Mrs.  Clegg  are  you 
content  ? " 

"Perfectly,  Jabez." 

A  long-sustained  pinch  of  snuff  spoke  Mr.  Ashton's  approbation, 
whilst  Simon  could  only  reiterate,  "  Eh,  lad,  when  aw  tuk  thee 
eawt  o'  the  wayter,  aw  little  thowt  whatn  a  blessin'  theaw'd 
be  to  us,  or  the  credit  theaw'd  bring  on  ar  neame  !  Aw  nobbut 
wish  Parson  Brucks  wur  aloive  neaw  to  yer  thee." 

"Our  relationship  will  only  bind  our  friendship  closer,  whatever 
name  you  bear,"  put  in  Ben  Travis,  warmly,  in  spite  of  himself 


TUB    MANCHESTER    MAN.  419 

pleased   with    the    decision    which    would    spare    him   the   pain   of 
addressing  Ellen   as   Mrs.   Travis. 

"An*  meals  come  reawnd  whatever  neame  yo'  ca'  them  by." 
supplemented  Bess,  who,  like  Martha,  troubled  with  much  serving, 
had  been  running  in  and  out  during  the  colloquy,  whilst  a 
combination  of  savoury  odours,  and  a  clatter  of  knives  and 
plates,  came  from  the  adjoining  room  ;  "  it's  supper  toime  neaw, 
an'  nobbody's  had  even  theer  tay  yet." 

"  Just  so,  just  so,  Mrs.  Hulme.  But  never  mind  the  tea,"  said 
Mr.  Ashton  ;  "  here  comes  your  good  husband  in  from  the  cellar, 
with  a  bottle  or  two  of  generous  wine  to  drink  to  new 
relationships." 

"  I  think  I  shall  go  abroad  for  a  few  months,  Cousin  Jabez," 
said  Travis  to  him,  as  Mr.  Ashton  mounted  first  into  the  gig 
to  return  home  next  day.  "  I  require  to  dissipate  thought.  If 
I  were  occupied  as  you  are  from  morning  until  night  there  might 
be  less  necessity.  But — I  say,  Chapman  the  landlord  here  tells 
me  you  painted  his  sign.  I  think  the  faculty  must  run  in  the 
blood,  for  I  do  a  bit  in  that  line  myself  sometimes.  How  is  it 
I  have  not  seen  a  brush  in  your  hands  latterly  ? " 

"  Well,  I  got  a  hint,  through  painting  that  very  sign,  that 
trade  and  art  were  incompatible,  and  seeing  the  force  of  the 
remark,  as  counselled — '  the  cobbler  has  stuck  to  his  last.' " 

"Look  you,  Cousin"  (Travis  seemed  fond  of  the  word),  "the 
fabled  shield  had  two  sides — stick  to  your  trade  if  you  like,  but 
don't  let  your  trade  absorb  you.  A  business  man  who  allows 
himself  no  leisure,  and  has  no  resource  out  of  his  business,  is 
apt  to  degenerate  into  a  money-grubber.  I  hope  better  things 
of  you." 

A  nod,  a  shake  of  the  hand,  the  gig  rolled  off  with  its 
occupants,  and  Jabez  stood  looking  after  them,  hesitating  whether 
to  go  back  to  the  mill  or  to  the  cottage,  The  casual  word  of 


420  THB    MANCHBSTBR    MAN. 

warning  had  come  not  one  whit  too  soon.  That  which  was 
sending  Travis  abroad  had  kept  Jabez  close  to  business.  He  had 
not  sought  so  much  to  dissipate  thought  as  to  circumvent  it  by 
substitution.  If  he  had  given  his  leisure  to  the  cultivation  of  art, 
it  had  of  late  been  art  only  as  connected  with  manufacture  and 
money-making.  Even  his  honeymoon  he  was  casting  into  the 
X  mill  as  grist.  He  was  ever  ready  to  take  a  hint.  He  turned 

his  steps  towards  Carr  with  something  like  a  sigh. 

"Well,  perhaps,  I  might  as  well  give  my  afternoons  to  Ellen 
whilst  we  are  here.  I  did  not  come  to  work,  and  the  poor  thing 
does  need  some  compensation  for  the  lack  of  a  lover's  ardour. 
God  forbid  that  she  should  ever  suspect  that  I  married  her  out 
of  pity,  or  that  I  should  become  a  money-grubber.  I  wonder  if 
Travis  thought  I  was  likely  to  neglect  her  ?  It  is  a  thousand 
pities  she  should  set  her  mind  on  me  instead  of  him.  And  why 
she  should  passes  my  comprehension.  He  has  every  advantage  of 
face,  figure,  and  fortune,  to  say  nothing  of  his  evident  devotion. 
Ah  !  women  are  strange  creatures,  and  men  are  not  much  better. 
I  fear  I  am  very  ungrateful  not  to  reciprocate  her  attachment  more 
fully.  Why,  here  she  is  running  down  the  avenue  to  meet  me, 
as  if  I  had  been  gone  a  month.  I  really  ought  to  love  her 
better  than  I  do.  But  love  can  neither  be  forced  nor  crushed. 

Heigho ! " 

***** 

Back  to  Manchester  they  went,  rather  sooner  than  expected  ; 
and  then,  though  Jabez  threw  himself  into  business  with  a  will,  he 
bore  in  mind  the  parting  words  of  Ben  Travis. 

The  contemplated  amalgamation  was  effected,  not  without 
extra  draughts  on  Jabez  and  his  leisure.  But  as  partner  of  a 
large  firm;  even  though  a  junior,  it  was  obvious  he  could  not 
work  as  designer  for  calico-printers,  or  for  any  other  than  their 
own  house.  Consequently,  not  being  a  man  of  pleasure,  his 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  421 

evenings  hung  rather  heavily  on  his  hands,  especially  as  neither 
Ellen  nor  he  cared  for  the  card-parties  which  formed  the  visiting 
staple.  His  very  marriage  had  driven  away  his  closest  friend, 
and  broken  in  upon  plans  and  schemes  which  otherwise  would 
have  found  sufficient  occupation  for  his  spare  hours.  Other  friends, 
however,  dropped  in  for  an  occasional  chat,  notably  George 
Pilkington  (to  whom  the  wine  trade  had  opened  a  road  to 
fortune),  with  his  reminiscences  and  jocularity,  broke  in  on  the 
monotony  of  married  life,  that  monotony  which  is  as  much  to 
be  dreaded  by  young  couples  as  is  a  first  quarrel. 

Ellen  knew  it  not,  but  Augusta's  image  often  and  often  rose 
up  between  husband  and  wife,  and  would  not  be  driven  back ; 
whilst  Ellen's  very  caresses  were  a  source  of  pain  to  him,  so 
much  he  felt  himself  a  debtor  to  her  love.  There  was  a  void 
in  his  breast  which  she  could  never  wholly  fill  ;  he  himself 
complained  of  a  dearth  of  intellectual  recreation,  and  when  Henry 
Liverseege  suggested  a  return  to  painting,  he  fell  back  upon  his 
advice. 

The  fact  is  he  needed  to  be  alone,  to  have  a  place  where 
he  could  shut  himself  up  with  himself,  whether  to  indulge  in 
day-dreams  or  to  discipline  his  soul,  or  to  think  out  the  ideas 
of  art,  trade,  or  social  economy  which  floated  through  his  brain, 
and  were  dispersed  by  actual  business  or  fireside  chat ;  such  a 
sanctum  as  had  been  his  so  many  years  in  Mosley  Street ;  but, 
self-conscious,  he  had  shrunk  from  making  the  proposal,  afraid 
to  wound  his  devoted  wife  by  showing  a  desire  to  isolate  himself. 
The  young  artist's  open  remark  was  enough  for  Ellen.  At  once 
a  small  room,  or  rather  closet,  partitioned  off  from  a  large  one, 
at  the  top  of  the  house,  was  set  apart  for  his  use.  He  shelved 
one  wall  for  books,  set  up  an  office-desk,  carried  thither  easel, 
papers,  and  painting  materials ;  enclosed  the  fly-leaf  of  his  father's 
Prayer-book  within  glass  and  a  black  frame,  suspending  it  on  the 


422  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

wall  before  him  as  a  sacred  relic,  and  there,  after  warehouse 
hours,  he  was  wont  to  shut  himself  in,  and  almost  forget  that  he 
was  a  married  man.  But  this  room  acted  as  a  safety-valve. 

Luckily,  in  Ellen's  eyes,  Jabez  could  do  no  wrong ;  he  was 
gentleness  itself  in  all  his  comportment  towards  her,  and  the  love 
which  had  sprung  to  life  unsought,  and  lived  so  long  without 
encouragement,  asked  but  slight  return  to  sustain  it.  It  was 
treason  for  Mrs.  Chadwick  to  hint  that  Jabez  was  "  unsocial,"  or 
gave  them  "  too  little  of  his  company."  She  was  ever  ready  to 
resent  it  with  the  reply  that — 

"  If  he  is  not  dull  shut  up  there  by  himself,  I  am  sure  we 
three  have  no  right  to  complain  of  dulness  down  here  together  ; " 
yet  if  we  analysed  her  heart  very  closely  there  were  longings 
and  yearnings  for  his  society  known  only  to  herself. 

It  was  judged  advisable,  for  the  further  introduction  and 
extension  of  Ashton,  Chadwick,  and  Clegg's  business,  that  one  of 
the  partners  should  travel  occasionally  as  their  commercial  repre- 
sentative ;  and  naturally  this  duty  devolved  upon  the  active  junior, 
whose  capacity  for  the  undertaking  revealed  itself  not  only  in 
heavy  remittances  and  a  full  order-book,  but  in  a  paucity  of  bad 
debts.  Of  course  he  travelled  with  a  horse  and  gig  for  the 
carriage  of  samples,  and  now  and  then  he  would  take  Ellen  with 
him  on  a  short  journey,  an  indulgence  which  appeared  to  fill 
the  cup  of  her  delight.  And  altogether  the  marital  yoke  in  a  few 
months  adjusted  itself  to  their  shoulders  very  naturally. 

It  was  during  their  absence  on  one  of  the  earliest  of  these 
journeys  that  an  event  occurred  which  set  the  indignant  blood 
of  Jabez  on  the  boil,  and  showed  there  was  a  fire  smouldering, 
not  extinguished. 

The  Aspinall  home  at  Fallowfield  was  an  ancient,  many- 
gabled  grange,  with  mullioned  windows,  recessed  window-seats, 
expansive  two-leaved  entrance  arched  above;  noble  hall,  with 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  423 

trophies  from  the  hunting-field ;  grand  staircase,  with  massive 
carved  oak  balusters,  flights  of  broad  low  steps,  and  wide  square 
landings ;  long  corridors,  three  or  four  rooms  of  magnificent 
proportions,  and  clusters  of  little  ones  grouped  around  unsuspected 
passages  and  stairs  ;  open  fire-places  recently  enclosed,  and  double 
doors  to  the  chief  chambers.  Antiquity  had  set  its  seal  upon  the 
place,  and  filled  the  panelled  rooms  with  quaint  or  obsolete 
furniture  and  adornments,  as  each  successive  generation  had  left 
its  quota.  High-backed  chairs,  sofas  of  grotesque  device  with  dim 
worsted-work  cushions  and  covers,  heavy  draperies  of  silk  or  velvet, 
and  tables  with  legs  of  all  possible  patterns. 

It  had  come  to  the  former  Mrs.  Aspinall  from  her  ancestors, 
and  from  her  to  her  son  on  his  marriage  ;  consequently  this  was 
the  home  proper  of  Laurence  and  his  wife,  although  they  had 
a  suite  of  rooms  set  apart  for  them  at  Ardwick,  and  Mr. 
Aspinall  would  fain  have  had  his  fascinating  daughter-in-law  abide 
there  always,  instead  of  making  his  house  a  mere  convenience  for 
visiting  in  town. 

Stabling  and  other  outhouses  were  attached,  the  gardens 
were  well  laid  out,  there  was  a  good  quantity  of  grass  land,  all 
enclosed  within  a  high  wall,  and  it  lay  away  from  the  main 
road.  Mr.  Aspinall's  carriage  was  a  close  one,  for  service  as 
well  as  show.  Mr.  Laurence,  on  his  accession  to  his  mother's 
property  and  his  wife's  dowry,  added  to  other  extravagances  not 
a  like  carriage,  but  a  new  Tilbury,  and  astonished  the  crowd  by 
driving  tandem. 

Whitsuntide  is  the  great  annual  festival  of  Manchester.  It 
is  the  race  week,  the  time  when  the  Sunday-school  children 
dress  in  their  best  to  walk  in  procession  and  have  excursional 
treats  into  the  country.  In  1823  Whit-Sunday  fell  on  the  i8th 
of  May,  when  the  hawthorn  scented  the  air,  and  cherry-blossom 
snowed  on  the  carriage  which  Mr.  Aspinall  sent  for  his  daughter- 


424  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

in-law,  that  she  might  witness  from  his  drawing-room  windows 
the  interesting  spectacle  on  the  Green,  and  preside  over  the 
hospitalities  of  his  open  house  during  the  week.  At  that  time, 
as  now,  Monday  was  the  day  set  apart  for  the  children  of  all 
the  Established  Church  Schools  to  assemble  at  the  Collegiate 
Church,  sing  anthems,  and  thence  defile  in  long  procession  six 
abreast,  attended  by  their  respective  clergy  and  teachers,  until 
they  reached  the  Green,  where  the  girls,  in  their  white  caps  and 
frocks,  were  ranged  within  the  enclosure  round  the  Pond,  the  boys 
forming  a  dark  cordon  around  them,  and  the  crowd  a  motley 
one  beyond.  And  then  from  the  multitudinous  young  throats 
poured  forth  anthems  of  praise  in  a  volume  of  swelling  harmony 
which  hushed  to  silence  the  listening  birds  above  them. 

Augusta,  not  in  robust  health,  lay  on  a  couch  by  the  window 
and  looked  on,  her  father-in-law  watching  her  and  anticipating 
her  wants  with  the  homage  of  old-world  gallantry,  for  young 
Mrs.  Aspinall  was  becoming  an  important  person  in  his  eyes. 

Nor  was  Laurence  much  less  attentive.  He  had  been  on 
his  best  behaviour  for  some  time,  and  would  scarcely  let  the 
wind  of  heaven  blow  too  roughly  upon  her. 

At  that  period  Manchester  races  were  held  on  Kersal  Moor, 
an  extensive  tract  of  land  generously  set  apart  for  the  purpose 
by  the  owner,  Miss  Byrom. 

"  The  glass  of  fashion  and  the  mould  of  form,"  was  the 
handsome  man  who  patted  Augusta's  shoulders  and  stooped 
down  to  kiss  her  on  Wednesday,  the  first  race  day ;  but  it  was 
with  something  more  than  a  shade  of  anxiety  she  saw  him 
draw  on  his  buckskin  gloves,  take  the  long  reins,  and  mount 
his  high  Tilbury,  with  Bob  beside  him,  and  dash  round  the 
lower  end  of  the  Green  at  a  canter. 

Evening  came  to  verify  her  fears.  Back  from  Kersal  Moor 
came  the  tandem  and  the  tandem's  master,  but  the  biped  was 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  425 

cbrius.  He  was  in  that  stage  of  self-satisfied  elation  which  a 
contradictory  word  would  change  to  fierceness,  and  the  whim  of 
the  hour  was  to  drive  his  wife  to  Fallowfield,  and  show  her  how 
dexterous  a  whip  he  was,  and  that  not  Ducrow  could  manage 
a  tandem  better  than  he. 

It  was  in  vain  she  or  his  father  pleaded  her  delicate  health, 
the  height  of  the  vehicle,  the  shaking  she  would  sustain  ;  he 
laughed  at  her  fears,  then  fiercely  insisted,  and  not  daring  to 
disobey,  she  was  hoisted  to  her  perilous  seat. 

In  much  alarm,  Mr.  Aspinall  mounted  Bob  on  a  saddle- 
horse  to  follow.  The  roads  were  dotted  with  vehicles  and 
people,  the  latter  shouting  and  singing,  or  muttering  tipsy  oaths, 
as  the  fortune  of  the  day  inclined  them.  Laurence  proved  his 
dexterity  in  guiding  his  far-off  leader  through  all  intricacies,  but  so 
close  did  wheel  often  come  to  wheel  that  Augusta's  heart  seemed  to 
leap  into  her  throat,  and  her  teeth  chattered,  although  it  was  May. 

After  they  turned  off  from  the  Stockport  Road  at  Longsight, 
they  "  spun  along  at  a  rattling  pace,"  as  he  said  ;  but  she  had  to 
hold  by  the  rail  to  keep  her  seat,  notwithstanding  which,  at  the 
sharp  angle  by  Birch  Fold,  the  vehicle  gave  a  lurch  which  almost 
pitched  her  off.  At  their  own  gate  there  was  an  abrupt  stoppage 
for  opening,  their  return  being  unexpected.  Then  the  foremost 
horse  refused  to  obey  the  rein  and  canter  up  the  drive.  Laurence 
plied  his  whip,  which  did  not  mend  the  matter,  and  but  that  Bob 
and  the  gardener  were  there  to  soothe  the  animals,  and  lead  them 
to  the  house,  worse  might  have  followed. 

As  it  was,  Mrs.  Laurence  Aspinall  was  half-dead  with  fear 
and  the  shaking.  She  was  lifted  down  and  carried,  almost 
insensible,  into  the  house.  Cicily  and  one  of  the  maids  got  her 
to  bed,  whilst  Aspinall  himself,  calling  groom  and  gardener  from 
the  stables  into  the  drawing-room,  sat  down  to  have  a  drinking 
bout  with  them. 


426  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Presently  Cicily  put  a  white  face  in  at  the  door,  and  beckoned 
forth  Bob,  whom  no  drink  seemed  to  affect,  and  sent  him  off  as 
fast  as  four  legs  could  carry  him,  to  bring  back  a  doctor,  and 
acquaint  Mr.  Aspinall  and  the  Ashtons  that  his  young  mistress 
was  very  ill. 

In  less  time  than  might  have  been  expected,  Mr.  Aspinall's 
carriage  brought  to  the  Grange  that  gentleman,  Mrs.  Ashton, 
and  Mr.  Windsor,  a  young  Quaker  practitioner  from  Piccadilly. 
A  competent  nurse  from  the  Infirmary  was  on  the  box. 

There  was  no  doubt  she  was  in  a  critical  state,  but  the 
immediate  danger  was  warded  off;  and  though  Augusta  was  not 
able  to  leave  her  room  in  the  interim,  the  scent  of  June's  roses 
came  in  at  the  open  windows  before  her  baby  was  born,  when 
penitent  Laurence  went  into  raptures  over  wife  and  son. 

For  two  or  three  days  he  hovered  about  the  house,  nervously 
anxious  lest  any  sound  should  disturb  the  young  mother.  He 
saw  that  every  domestic  was  shod  with  list,  stopped  the  great 
hall  clock,  and  had  the  rolled-up  carpets  laid  down  on  the 
polished  oaken  stairs. 

Four  days  sufficed.  On  the  fifth  he  rode  off  to  town  on 
Black  Ralph  on  a  pretence  of  business ;  but  very  little  did 
Cannon  Street  see  of  Mr.  Laurence  that  day.  With  every 
acquaintance  he  met  was  a  glass  to  be  drunk,  "to  wet  the 
child's  head."  At  the  Scramble  Club,  where  he  dined,  he  paid 
for  two  or  three  bottles  of  wine,  also  "  to  wet  the  child's  head," 
according  to  the  practice  of  the  club.  Riding  home,  he  stopped 
at  the  "George  and  Dragon,"  Ardwick  Green,  and  went  through 
the  same  process. 

There  some  one  remarked  that  he  was  too  drunk  to  stand, 
much  less  ride  home,  when  he  swore  with  an  oath  that  he  would 
show  them  how  he  could  ride  ;  he  and  Black  Ralph  were  equal 
to  anything.  And  then,  amid  roars  of  derisive  laughter,  he  flung 


THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

out  another  oath,  and  laid  a  wager  which  was  regarded  merely 
as  the  boasting  of  drunken  braggadocio. 

He  had  kissed  his  wife's  pale  lips  on  leaving  in  the  morning, 
and  she  faintly  implored  him  to  be  home  early — she  did  not  dare 
add,  "and  sober."  Towards  nightfall  she  began  to  listen  for  his 
return.  Hour  after  hour  went  by,  and  at  one  in  the  morning 
she  heard  the  great  gates  and  the  door  thrown  open  for  their 
impatient  master  by  the  watching  servants,  and  the  strong  steed 
come  tearing  up  the  gravel — ay,  and  on  up  the  broad,  flat  steps, 
clattering  through  the  great  oaken  hall,  and,  urged  with  whip 
and  spur,  and  a  madman's  voice,  mount  the  freshly-carpeted 
stairs,  cross  the  landing  at  a  stride,  and  driving  back  the  affrighted 
nurse,  enter  that  sick  chamber  where,  with  her  baby  at  her  side, 
lay  the  fair  young  wife,  gasping  and  shrinking  with  terror,  and 
there  stand  with  quivering  flanks  and  panting  nostrils,  as  the 
reckless  rider  on  his  back  cried  in  exultation — 

"By  G— d,  I've  done  it!" 

He  had  done  it.  No  matter  what  noise  accompanied  the 
removal  of  horse  and  rider,  the  wife,  whom  in  his  sober  hours 
he  professed  to  love  so  passionately,  lay  insensible  to  sight  or 
sound,  and  wakened  only  to  a  morrow  of  delirium. 


CHAPTER    THE    FORTY-FIFTH. 

WOUNDS  INFLICTED  AND  ENDURED. 

OH  E  spark  lies  cold  in  the  flint  until  it  is  struck ;  and 
Ellen  had  not  believed  her  quiet  husband  capable  of 
so  much  passionate  indignation  as  burst  from  him  on 
the  receipt  (at  Sheffield)  of  the  details  just  given. 

"Brute!  ruffian!"  burst  from  his  lips,  as  the  letter  he  had 
crushed  in  his  grasp  fell  to  the  floor ;  and  with  a  stamp  he  rose 
to  his  feet,  pressed  one  hand  across  his  knitted  brows,  and  paced 
the  dingy  carpet  from  end  to  end  in  a  state  of  restless  perturbation, 
his  wrath  finding  vent  in  epithets  and  invectives  foreign  to  his 
tongue. 

"Whatever  is  the  matter,  Jabez,  love?"  Ellen  asked  in 
amazement. 

"Oh,  Ellen,  dear!  that  brute  Aspinall ."  He  could  get  no 

further.  Feeling  choked  his  utterance. 

She  picked  up  the  crumpled  letter,  and  with  almost  equal 
exasperation  and  pain  made  herself  mistress  of  its  contents,  in  her 
womanly  indignation  and  love  for  her  cousin  losing  sight  of  her 
husband's  excessive  emotion. 

Jabez  left  his  journey  unfinished,  and  drove  back  home  with 
all  speed.  Ellen  shared  with  Mrs.  Ashton  and  her  own  mother 
the  anxious  watch  in  that  large  dim  room,  where  the  favourite 
of  the  family  tossed  her  head  from  side  to  side,  and  muttered 
incoherent  words. 


TUB    MANCHESTER    MAN.  429 

In  the  sudden  emergency,  Bob  the  old  groom's  recommen- 
dation of  his  own  daughter  as  a  wet-nurse  for  the  poor  frail  baby 
passed  without  cavil.  Not  until  long  afterwards  was  it  known 
that  Sarah  Mostyn  was  the  last  woman  to  have  entered  that 
house,  and  on  such  a  footing. 

One  month,  two  months  wore  out  before  Augusta  rallied,  and 
Mr.  Windsor,  whose  medical  creed  was  to  "let  nature  take  its 
course,"  pronounced  her  out  of  danger,  and  fit  for  the  removal 
contemplated  by  her  friends,  and  resisted  by  Laurence.  Double 
doors,  however,  could  not  exclude  outer  sounds,  and  so  long  as 
she  shrank  and  shuddered  at  every  crunch  on  the  gravel,  every 
echo  of  his  raised  voice,  recovery  was  retarded.  So  the  elder 
Mr.  Aspinall,  exasperated  with  his  son,  and  most  solicitous  for 
the  welfare  of  his  son's  charming  wife,  added  his  dictum  to  that 
of  the  doctor,  offered  his  own  carriage  for  her  conveyance,  and 
threatened  to  disinherit  Laurence  if  he  interfered. 

Once  in  her  childhood's  home  she  amended  rapidly,  but  with 
increasing  strength  came  maternal  yearnings  for  her  infant,  still 
in  charge  of  the  wet-nurse  at  Fallowfield.  A  hackney-coach  was 
sent  to  bring  Sarah  Mostyn  with  the  child  to  its  mother ;  but  not 
a  step  would  the  nurse  budge.  She  had  no  orders  from  her 
master,  and  the  master  paid  her  wages,  and  she  "  shouldna  tak' 
orders  from  annybody  else."  Messages  were  sent,  and  notes  were 
written  to  Laurence,  which  he  tore  to  shreds ;  but  he  kept  away 
from  his  wife,  and  kept  back  the  child. 

At  length  she  pined  so  much  for  her  "  dear  babe,"  that  Mr. 
Ashton  and  Jabez  together  sought  Laurence  out  in  one  of  his 
haunts  (a  tavern  near  Cockpit  Hill),  to  prevail  on  him  to  let 
Augusta  have  her  boy  with  her. 

"  Mrs.  Aspinall  herself  deserted  her  child,"  he  replied,  all  the  more 
haughtily,  seeing  that  Jabez  was  Mr.  Ashton's  seconder.  "  When 
Mrs.  Aspinall  thinks  fit  to  return  home  to  her  maternal  and  wifely 


43°  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

duties,    she    will    find    the    nursery    door    open,    and    her    son    in 
trustworthy  care.      A  true  wife's  place  is  by  her  husband's  hearth." 

"Yes,  sir,  when  the  husband  is  a  true  man,"  replied  Jabez,  with 
decision. 

"And  who  dares  to  say  I  am  not  a  true  man?"  retorted 
Laurence  boldly. 

"I  do!"  promptly  answered  the  other.  "No  true  man  would 
have  imperilled  his  wife's  life  by  a  reckless  drive  in  the  dark 
night  in  a  tandem  Tilbury !  Only  a  reckless  madman  or  a  ruffian 
would  have  forced  a  horse  into  a  wife's  sick-chamber,  to  drive 
her  delirious  with  terror!" 

"And  pray,  sir,"  haughtily  responded  the  other,  "how  long  has 
Mrs.  Aspinall  made  you  her  confidant  ?  " 

"  I  have  not  the  honour  of  Mrs.  Aspinall's  confidence,"  answered 
Jabez  sturdily,  looking  him  full  in  the  face ;  "  such  facts  are 
trumpet-tongued." 

"Just  so,"  put  in  Mr.  Ashton,  drawing  his  arm  through  that 
of  his  junior  partner.  "And  the  fact  that  Augusta  shrinks  at 
your  name  has  spoken  so  loudly  to  us  that  if  ever  she  sits  on 
your  hearth  again  it  won't  be  with  my  consent.  Come  away, 
Clegg." 

After  this  declaration,  Aspinall  changed  his  tactics.  He 
wrote  to  his  wife,  requesting  her  return ;  then  entreating  it ; 
and  finally  went  in  person  to  beseech  her  to  "  come  back," 
vowing  to  "atone  for  the  past  with  the  devotion  of  a  life." 

The  young  mother  yearned  for  her  babe,  the  tender-hearted 
wife  could  not  resist  the  appeal  of  the  husband  whom,  with  all 
his  faults,  she  yet  loved ;  and,  regardless  of  the  previsions  of 
her  mother,  or  the  entreaties  of  her  father,  she  allowed  him  to 
drive  her  home  again  to  the  Grange. 

Her  first  thought  was  the  nursery.  There  she  found,  in 
Addition  to  her  own  boy,  drawing  its  sustenance  from  the  nurse's 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  431 

breast,  a  well-dressed  child,  some  two  years  old,  playing  with  a 
wooden  milkmaid  rattle  on  the  rug.  Something  in  the  child's 
face  and  auburn  curls  made  her  ask,  "  Sarah,  whose  child  is 
that  ?  " 

"  Mine.  Whose  should  it  be  ? "  was  the  pert  answer ;  and 
the  boldness  of  the  woman's  manner  checked  further  inquiry. 
But  Augusta's  heart  had  received  a  shock  -which  shook  the 
pedestal  on  which  her  idol  sat  enthroned. 

For  a  short  space  Laurence  kept  terms  with  his  wife,  and 
before  her  father  or  strangers  he  was  her  most  devoted  slave, 
but  she  underwent  a  species  of  slow  torture  in  secret. 

She  soon  found  that  Sarah  Mostyn  was  mistress  of  the  house 
as  well  as  of  the  nursery,  and  that  Sarah  Mostyn's  child  was  ot 
as  much  importance  as  her  own  baby-boy. 

Then  Laurence  filled  the  Grange  with  his  riotous  associates, 
and  compelled  his  wife  to  do  the  honours  of  his  table,  though 
their  oaths  and  conversation  overpowered  her  with  disgust.  And 
if  one,  flushed  with  wine,  or  more  bold  than  the  rest,  paid  her 
a  compliment,  or  looked  too  warm  an  admiration,  he  was  sure 
to  find  his  way  to  her  side  with  his  common  undertone  threat — 

"D n  you,  madam,  you  shall  smart  for  this!" — a  threat 

always  accompanied  with  sly  pinches,  which  left  their  marks 
beneath  her  sleeves.  Then,  straightway,  "  my  dear,"  or  "  my 
love,"  would  be  asked,  in  the  blandest  of  tones,  to  sing  a  song, 
play  a  rondo,  or  perform  some  act  of  courtesy  for  the  very 
guest  who  had  excited  his  jealousy. 

They  had  few  lady  visitors.  The  neighbourhood  was  remote 
from  town,  and  sparsely  inhabited.  Mr.  Laurence  Aspinall's 
reputation  was  as  a  yellow  flag  to  warn  gentlewomen  who  had 
daughters  or  husbands  to  lose  against  close  intimacy  with  their 
neighbours  of  the  Grange.  Pitying  the  isolation  of  one  so 
formed  to  adorn  society,  Mr.  Aspinall  gave  mixed  parties  at 


432  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Ardwick  Green  in  the  name  of  Mrs.  Laurence,  when  the  splendour 
of  her  attire  and  the  assiduous  attention  of  her  husband  set 
rumour  to  contradict  rumour.  But  save  on  an  occasional  family 
gathering,  she  saw  few  of  her  own  sex  at  Fallowfield. 

And  her  position  in  her  own  home  was  rendered  intolerable 
by  the  continued  presence  of  Sarah  Mostyn,  who,  at  first 
familiar,  then  impertinent,  had  become  at  last  openly  defiant.  . 

It  was  not  until  all  efforts  to  keep  the  nurse  in  her  proper 
place  had  failed,  that  Augusta  appealed  to  Laurence  to  discharge 
her,  the  woman  having  refused  to  take  a  dismissal  from  anyone 
but  her  master. 

"Tchut!"  said  he,  "I'll  soon  settle  that  business!"  and 
forthwith  stalked  to  the  nursery,  whence  his  voice  was  heard  in 
loud  command ;  but  the  result  was  not  the  woman's  removal, 
only  a  temporary  submission,  to  be  followed  by  fresh  rebellion, 
and  the  confirmation  of  Augusta's  worst  suspicions.  How  often 
did  the  aggrieved  wife  then  recall  her  thoughtless  declaration  to 
her  mother,  that  her  "  husband's  heart  must  hold  her  and  her 
only"  not  even  business  to  share  in  its  possession !  And  how 
thankful  she  would  have  been  to  have  had  no  rival  then  but 
business !  She  was  finding  the  bed  she  had  made  for  herself  a 
woefully  hard  one  ;  but  she  did  not  succumb  readily,  she  had  high 
spirits  and  a  buoyant  nature,  and  would  hardly  admit  to  herself 
how  much  she  suffered  or  how  great  a  mistake  she  had  made. 

But  Cicily,  that  most  faithful  of  faithful  followers,  cognisant  of 
her  mistress's  wrongs  long  before  her  mistress,  paid  Sarah  Mostyn 
off  in  her  own  coin  on  various  occasions,  and  took  care  that 
through  one  means  or  other  the  Ashtons  should  know  what  a  life 
their  darling  led. 

Amongst  his  other  little  peculiarities  Mr.  Laurence  was  an 
epicure,  and  one  of  his  favourite  tit-bits  was  that  spongy  lining  of 
a  goose's  frame  known  as  the  soul.  It  chanced  at  a  family  dinner, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  433 

rather  more  than  a  year  after  Augusta's  return  home,  that  a  fine 
stubble  goose  formed  part  of  the  bill  of  fare,  and  Cicily,  who  had 
long  owed  him  a  grudge  for  his  heartless  treatment  of  her  young 
mistress,  determined  to  pay  him  off,  and  expose  him  before  the 
whole  company.  A  good  caterer  for  a  dainty  palate,  Cicily  knew 
her  power  and  privileges,  but  in  this  case  she  overshot  the  mark. 

One  of  the  accomplishments  of  that  generation  was  dexterous 
carving,  and  Laurence  prided  himself  on  being  able  to  dismember 
a  large  fowl  without  once  shifting  his  fork.  The  goose  was  set 
before  himself,  and  duly  helped,  but,  lo !  when  his  knife  would  fain 
have  extracted  his  favourite  morsel  it  scraped  bare  bones. 

The  flat  bell-rope  was  pulled  violently.  Cicily  was  summoned, 
and  Cicily,  in  clean  linen  cap  and  apron,  stood  in  the  doorway 
curtseying  respectfully. 

"  What  have  you  done  with  the  soul  of  this  goose  ?"  he 
demanded,  in  a  tone  of  suppressed  passion. 

Cicily  came  a  step  or  two  forward  with  an  aspect  of  marvellous 
innocence.  "  Eh,  sir,  it's  not  a  goose,  it's  a  gonder,  and  ganders 
have  no  souts." 

Scarcely  an  individual  present  but  took  the  covert  innuendo,  and  • 
glances  were    exchanged  across  the    board  ;    but  the    look  he   shot 
at    the  woman    as,    incapable    of   speech,    he   waved    her    to    retire, 
was    one   never    to   be    forgotten,    so    much    demoniac    wrath   was 
concentrated  therein. 

From  the  time  when  Jabez  was  acknowledged  on  'Change  as  a 
Manchester  man,  was  admitted  into  Manchester  "society,"  and  had 
absolutely  become  a  member  of  the  same  family  as  his  son,  Mr. 
Aspinall  punctiliously  invited  him  with  his  wife;  and  Laurence, 
with  widely  different  feelings,  followed  suit. 

It  was  not  until  after  the  noble  exploit  to  which  Augusta  so 
nearly  fell  a  sacrifice  that  Mr.  Clegg  could  be  induced  so  far  to 
listen  to  Ellen's  desire  for  conciliation,  "  now  that  they  were  all 

FF 


434  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

of  one  family,"  as  to  accept  one  of  these  invitations.  After  that 
event  he  was  of  Mrs.  Ashton's  mind  that  "as  offenders  never 
pardon,"  Augusta  needed  a  friend  to  watch  over  her.  So  he  left 
his  books,  and  his  brushes,  and  his  schemes  for  the  class  amongst 
whom  he  had  been  reared,  and  (believing  his  growing  affection 
for  his  wife,  and  the  babe  she  had  borne  him,  a  sufficient 
guarantee  to  his  own  heart  for  his  own  good  faith)  when  the 
Aspinalls  next  invited,  he  accepted. 

As  previously  stated,  Augusta  had  not  dropped  into  tame 
submission  all  at  once ;  her  old  wilfulness  would  have  way  at 
times,  and  the  light  shafts  of  her  satire  were  frequently  aimed 
with  effect  against  her  recalcitrant  lord.  More  than  once  Jabez 
had  averted  disastrous  consequences  by  checking  her  vivacity  ere 
it  went  too  far.  But  never  had  he  been  so  thankful  for  his  self- 
appointed  guardianship  as  on  the  night  when  Cicily  thought  to 
pay  back  her  darling's  wrongs. 

To  his  surprise  and  pleasure,  Ben  Travis,  just  returned  from 
the  Continent,  was  of  the  party.  He  had  not  yet  called  on  the 
family  in  Oldham  Street,  and  Jabez  never  asked  him  wherefore 
The  cousins  had  much  to  talk  over,  and  whilst  Laurence  Aspinall 
was  pouring  wine  on  his  wrath,  they  discussed  a  project  in  which 
Jabez  took  an  interested  part,  and  which  eventuated  the  following 
year  in  the  Manchester  Mechanics'  Institution.  But  through  all 
their  discussion  Jabez  never  once  lost  sight  of  Laurence,  and  from 
his  excessively  polite  manner  to  her  augured  ill  for  Augusta  when 
the  restraining  presence  of  friends  was  removed.  He  communicated 
his  fears  to  Travis,  and  when  the  good-byes  were  said,  and  the 
various  conveyances  rolled  out  between  the  great  gates,  a  fee  to 
Luke  the  gardener,  who  was  also  gatekeeper,  kept  them  open.  A 
whispered  word  was  sufficient  for  those  who  had  seen  the  look 
Laurence  directed  across  the  dinner-table  from  Cicily  to  his  wife, 
and  who  knew  the  character  and  disposition  of  the  man, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  435 

Mr.  Travis's  gig  and  the  Ashton's  hackney-coach  were  kept  in 
waiting  close  at  hand,  Mrs.  Ashton  and  Ellen,  well  wrapped  up 
within,  waiting  anxiously  for  they  knew  not  what. 

Back  towards  the  closed  house  went  Mr.  Ashton  and  the 
cousins,  treading  carefully  over  the  gravel.  There  was  a  flagged 
footway  round  the  building,  and  from  the  windows  of  dining  and 
drawing  rooms  light  was  still  streaming.  The  last  owner  had 
lowered  the  middle  window  of  the  drawing-room  as  a  door  of 
access  to  the  lawn. 

As  if  by  accident  the  curtains  had  been  dragged  a  little  aside 
in  each  apartment,  and  now  there  were  watchers  at  the  apertures. 
The  elder  Mr.  Aspinall  had  made  an  excuse  and  retired  to  bed 
early.  Augusta,  with  a  shawl  wrapped  round  her,  sat  weeping 
on  a  sofa  in  the  drawing-room,  afraid  to  go  to  bed.  High  words 
had  evidently  passed  whilst  those  outside  had  made  their 
arrangements  at  the  gate. 

Presently,  into  the  dining-room  sauntered  Laurence,  with  his 
arm  round  the  shoulders  of  Sarah  Mostyn,  the  shameless  nurse. 
They  sat  down  to  the  supper-table ;  he  poured  out  wine  into  a 
goblet,  and  they  drank  from  the  same  glass ;  he  fed  her  with 
delicacies,  and  kissed  and  caressed  her  with  an  assured  familiarity 
which  told  it  was  no  new  experience. 

Long  they  lingered  drinking  and  dallying,  and  the  watchers 
might  have  thought  no  danger  need  be  apprehended.  Suddenly  a 
word  of  the  woman's,  like  a  match  to  petroleum,  set  the  whole 
man  ablaze.  He  rushed  from  the  room  with  a  loud  oath,  the 
woman  after  him,  apparently  in  alarm.  The  movement  her  friends 
made  outside  in  gaining  the  other  window  caused  Augusta  to 
raise  her  beautiful  head,  and  at  that  moment  her  husband  stood 
before  her,  brandishing  his  cavalry  sabre,  and  with  his  eyeballs 
glaring,  fiercely  vociferating,  "  I'll  teach  you,  madam,  to  set  my 
servants  to  insult  meT  he  made  a  fearful  slash  at  her. 


436  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

As  she  sprang  aside  with  a  terrified  shriek,  the  old  woodwork 
of  the  glass-door  gave  way,  and  before  the  tipsy  madman  could 
recover  his  guard  to  strike  a  fresh  blow,  his  sabre  was  wrenched 
from  him,  and  himself  struggling  in  the  grasp  of  three  powerful 
men,  his  own  gardener  being  one. 

Poor  Mr.  Ashton's  care  was  his  stricken  child,  whose  white 
shoulders,  bathed  in  blood,  were  washed  by  a  father's  tears. 
Thankful  then  was  Jabez  to  have  been  at  hand,  and  on  the  alert, 
with  so  powerful  an  ally  as  Travis  ;  thankful  to  have  saved 
Augusta's  life  at  any  sacrifice  of  personal  feeling  ;  and  only 
himself  could  tell  what  his  presence  under  that  roof  cost  him. 

Even  Laurence  had  no  inkling  of  it ;  the  marriage  of  Jabez 
had  closed  his  jealous  eyes.  But  now,  finding  in  his  old  opponent 
an  unseen  watcher  over  his  wife — her  defender  when  he  had  least 
expected — his  baffled  rage  was  something  terrible  to  look  upon. 
He  fought,  struggled,  vociferated,  threatened,  and  foamed  at  the 
mouth ;  and  Mr.  Aspinall,  coming  thither  in  his  dressing-gown, 
aroused  by  the  uproar,  could  barely  master  his  indignation  and 
disgust  as  he  ordered  the  men-servants,  crowding  in  half-dressed, 
to  "  help  to  bind  that  murderous  maniac  down  ! " 

It  was  well,  too,  that  Mrs.  Ashton  and  Ellen  were  close  at 
hand,  and  a  vehicle  ready  to  despatch  for  a  surgeon,  for  Augusta 
needed  all  their  care. 

Before  three  days  were  over  there  was  a  little  coffin  in  the 
house,  holding  a  still-born  child,  and  there  was  a  young  mother, 
with  a  plaistered  shoulder,  lying,  white  as  her  pillow,  in  a  state 
of  coma. 

Dr.  Windsor  having  exercised  his  best  skill,  as  was  his  wont, 
left  nature  to  do  the  rest,  and  youth  and  nature  between  them,  did 
their  work  effectually. 

Fain  would  Mr.  Ashton  have  removed  his  child  once  and  for 
all.  He  offered  to  set  up  a  carriage  for  her,  if  she  would  but 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  437 

leave  her  husband,  and  seek  a  legal  separation,  insisting  that 
she  owed  a  duty  to  herself,  as  well  as  to  her  husband.  Mr. 
Aspinall  himself  begged  that  she  would  take  up  her  abode  with 
him,  at  Ardwick,  if  only  for  her  own  security.  He  had  ceased 
to  find  excuses  for  his  son,  and  his  son's  charming  wife  stood 
high  in  his  esteem. 

But  Laurence  had  been  beforehand,  and  with  plausible 
promises  and  penitential  tears,  and  an  adroit  parade  of  her  little 
Willie,  also  in  tears  ''  for  mamma,"  won  her  over  to  pardon,  and 
to  give  him  another  trial ;  and  not  all  Mr.  Ashton's  eloquence, 
nor  Mrs.  Ashton's  proverbial  battery,  could  win  her  from  her 
decision. 

"My  dear  mother,"  said  she,  "remember  you  told  me  'what 
could  not  be  cured  must  be  endured,'  and  that  'as  I  made  my 
bed  so  must  I  lie.'  '  It  is  a  long  lane,'  mother,  '  that  has  never  a 
turn,'  I  have  heard  you  say  many  a  time  ;  and  who  knows  but 
Laurence  may  take  a  turn  now,  and  reform  ?  At  all  events,  it  is 
my  duty  to  give  him  a  fair  trial,  and  keep  my  own  wayward 
nature  in  check,  so  as  not  to  provoke  him  ;  and  I  must  not  leave 
Willie  alone  with  that  woman.  I  think  Mr.  Clegg  would  say  I 
am  right." 

I  am  afraid  she  overrated  Mr.  Clegg's  magnanimity  much  as 
she  overrated  her  wild  husband's  promised  reformation,  for  her 
decision  struck  a  pang  into  the  heart  of  Jabez,  little  dreamed  of  by 
Ellen.  Indeed,  it  cost  him  a  sore  struggle  to  subdue  his  concern 
for  Augusta  within  the  bounds  of  duty  to  his  own  wife,  whose 
many  virtues  were  gradually  winning  their  way  into  his  heart, 
and  towards  whom  his  attention  never  relaxed. 


CHAPTER    THE    FORTY-SIXTH. 


THE  MOWER  WITH   HIS  SCYTHE. 


NEW   BAILEY  PRISON. 


EARS  went  by — Laurence  had 
promised  to  remove  Sarah 
Mostyn,  but  the  woman 
laughed,  refused  to  stir,  and 
he  let  her  remain — a  thorn 
in  his  wife's  side — training 
up  the  boy  she  had  nursed, 
and  whom  he  idolised,  to 
scorn  and  jeer  at  his  own 
mother;  whilst  her  red-haired 
girl  ran  about  the  place  wild 
as  a  young  hare.  He  broke 
out  from  time  to  time,  and 
his  wife  was  the  sufferer ;  he 
horse-whipped  her,  shot  at 
way  that  malignity  could 


her,     and     tortured     her     in     every 
devise. 

No  wonder  that  so  many  tiny  coffins  of  immature  babes  should 
be  carried  from  the  gates  of  the  Fallowfield  Grange.  No  wonder 
if  Augusta  began  to  compare  her  lot  with  Ellen's,  and  to  repent 
her  scorn  of  a  true  heart  because  of  its  plebeian  origin. 

Meanwhile,  the  firm  of  Ashton,  Chadwick,  and  Clegg  prospered 
beyond  expectation,  the  business  tact  and  integrity  of  the  junior 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  439 

partner  alike  aiding  the  extension  and  stability  of  the  firm.  To 
make  way  for  its  expansion  more  warehouse  room  was  required. 
The  Ashtons,  not  without  a  sigh  for  old  association,  relinquished 
their  house,  and  removed  to  another  close  at  hand  in  George 
Street,  little  less  commodious,  however  much  Kezia  might  grumble 
at  it.  This  was  when  Ben  Travis,  lacking  employment  for  time, 
mind,  and  money,  offered  them  to  the  growing  establishment,  and 
his  influence  as  "Co."  was  accepted.  This  combination  of  capital 
and  energy,  as  Jabez  had  foreseen,  worked  wonders  for  them 
commercially,  enabling  them  to  tide  over  the  trade  distress  of  1826 
with  security  and  advantage.  Long  before  then  Jabez  had  offered 
to  pay  Mrs.  Clowes  her  loan,  with  interest ;  but  she  told  him  she 
was  going  to  render  up  her  account  where,  not  the  coin  she 
had,  but  that  which  she  had  given  away,  would  be  put  to  her 
credit ;  and  so,  as  at  first  proposed,  she  made  it  over  to  her  little 
godson,  Joshua  Clegg,  before  she  was  gathered  to  the  great 
garner. 

But  the  universal  mower  reaped  a  heavier  harvest  in  1828,  when 
he  swept  his  keen  scythe  over  the  bed  of  the  river. 

In  1822  Mr.  Ashton  (one  of  the  first  promoters  of  the  Chamber 
of  Commerce),  notwithstanding  his  advancing  years,  took  an  active 
part  in  the  formation  of  a  New  Quay  Company,  for  the  better 
navigation  of  the  river  Irwell.  The  company  was  established, 
quays  were  constructed,  warehouses  erected,  boats  built,  traffic 
was  extended,  and  the  town  generally  benefited. 

In  the  February  of  1828,  the  axe,  the  adze,  and  the  hammer 
made  a  busy  noise  in  the  boat-building  yard  of  the  company,  and 
sail-makers  were  active  with  their  needles ;  for  a  flat  or  barge, 
destined  to  convey  cargoes  of  merchandise  to  and  from  Liverpool, 
was  to  be  ready  for  the  launch  on  the  26th,  a  day  destined  to 
send  a  thrill  of  horror  tingling  through  the  veins  of  Manchester, 
so  sad  was  the  catastrophe  it  closed  upon. 


44°  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

The  launch  of  the  Emma  was  an  event  in  the  annals  of  the 
company,  and  of  the  town ;  consequently  a  large  number  of 
spectators  assembled,  a  goodly  proportion  being  admitted  to  the 
yard  to  take  part  in  the  ceremony,  and  to  go  with  the  flat  on  her 
trial  trip  under  Captain  Gaudy. 

Mrs.  Ashton,  saying,  "that  when  the  cat's  away  the  mice  will 
play,"  had  decided  on  remaining  at  home  to  watch  the  mice,  but 
Mr.  Ashton  compensated  himself  by  taking  Ellen  and  her  two 
elder  boys,  leaving  baby  with  its  grandma ;  Jabez,  detained  by 
business  in  the  counting-house,  promising  to  overtake  them  before 
they  were  on  board.  Mr.  Aspinall,  too,  was  there,  and  on  his 
arm  was  his  son's  wife,  and  Laurence,  with  his  boy  Willie,  close 
beside  them.  He  was  too  jealous  of  the  admiration  she  excited, 
to  permit  her  to  go  into  company,  even  with  his  father,  unless 
he  had  also  his  own  eye  upon  her,  especially  where  there  was  a 
chance  of  meeting  Jabez  Clegg.  He  brought  the  boy  for  a  treat. 

It  was  quite  a  gala-day,  and  as  the  pleasant  company  mounted 
the  deck,  peered  into  the  low  cabin,  and  chatted  gaily  to  one 
another,  they  little  thought  to  how  many  that  would  be  a  launch 
into  eternity. 

The  boat,  a  large  flat,  fully  rigged,  painted  white  above  the 
water-line,  and  black  below,  with  sails  set  and  flags  flying, 
rested  in  well-greased  cradles,  her  head  down ;  the  shipwrights 
stood  ready  with  their  daggers ;  painters  with  their  cans  and 
brushes  to  dab  her  sides  as  she  slid  past  them  ;  a  band  upon  the 
quay  played  lively  tunes,  and  (fatal  mischance)  the  people  on  deck 
flocked  to  one  side  to  listen.  The  sponsor,  a  Miss  Grimes,  with 
her  sister  and  our  friends,  advanced  to  the  bows.  The  word  was 
given  ;  the  ready  daggers  struck  away  the  shores  ;  the  boat  began 
to  move  ;  Miss  Grimes  caught  firmly  the  bottle  (suspended  by  a 
ribbon),  and  shattered  it  upon  the  vessel,  proclaiming,  with  that 
baptism  of  wine,  the  boat  was  henceforth  the  Emma.  Hurrahs 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  441 

and  exclamations  followed.  The  bows  touched  the  water,  which 
first  splashed  the  faces,  then  lifted  from  their  feet  the  christeners 
and  the  Ashton  party.  The  flat  had  dipped  too  deeply,  it  heeled 
over  on  her  crowded  side,  and  sank  with  her  living  cargo  clinging 
and  fettering  each  other  in  the  swirling  waters,  whilst  shrieking 
spectators  looked  on  helpless  from  bridge  and  bank,  watching 
others  braver  and  bolder,  or  better  skilled,  rush  to  the  rescue  to 
their  own  risk. 

Who  shall  picture  the  horror  and  confusion  of  that  moment, 
when  some  scores  of  holiday  people — men,  women,  children — were 
precipitated  at  one  fell  swoop  into  the  water,  shrieking  and  clinging 
to  one  another  with  that  tenacity  of  grip  proverbial  with  the 
drowning  ? 

The  bridge,  the  Old  Quay,  the  open  space  in  front  of  the  New 
Bailey  Prison — railed  off  at  an  elevation  far  above  the  stream — the 
steep  steps,  and  the  towing-path  beneath,  were  all  lined  with 
spectators,  though  the  fatal  launch  was  made  from  a  yard  lower 
down  the  river  on  the  Manchester  side.  (The  New  Bailey  was  in 
Salford.) 

As  the  vessel  struck  the  ground,  shuddering  from  stem  to 
stern,  before  turning  over  on  her  side,  and  the  final  catastrophe 
was  imminent,  Laurence  (sober  for  once)  snatched  his  darling  boy 
up  in  his  arms,  whispered  a  hasty  word  of  instruction  and 
confidence,  and,  regardless  of  aught  besides,  sprang  with  him  into 
the  water  in  the  contrary  direction,  far  as  possible  beyond  the  eddy 
and  suction,  and  keeping  clear  of  the  struggling  wretches  who  were 
pulling  each  other  down,  swam  with  him  to  the  towing-path.  But 
not  until  he  had  placed  Willie  under  safe  charge,  beyond  danger 
from  the  scurrying  throng,  did  he  hasten  back  to  attempt  the 
rescue  of  wife  or  father  ;  and  then  neither  was  to  be  seen. 

Mr.  Aspinall  had  been  an  able  swimmer  in  his  day,  and  made 
a  bold  effort  for  self-preservation;  but  cramp  seizing  his  gouty 


4  1-2  THB    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

limbs,  he  was  one  of  the  first  to  disappear  and  perish,  though  boats 
and  swimmers  had  put  out  to  the  general  rescue. 

It  was  vain  to  search  for  individuals;  though  well  was  his  son's 
prowess  tested  that  day ;  more  than  one  drowning  wretch  he 
clutched  from  behind  by  clothes  or  hair,  and  urged  forward  to  the 
bank,  where  the  Humane  Society's  men,  with  ropes  and  grapnels, 
were  ably  seconded  by  volunteer  humanity,  and  strong  hands  were 
outstretched  to  haul  the  helpless  up. 

Ben  Travis  had  waited  for  Jabez,  detained  in  the  warehouse 
by  courtesy  to  Mr.  Gregson,  the  buyer  for  Messrs.  Leaf,  of  London, 
and  the  two,  hurrying  to  make  up  for  lost  time,  only  reached  the 
New  Quay  with  Nelson  at  their  heels  as  the  hurrahs  died  out  in 
appalling  screams,  and  the  waters  of  the  Irwell  closed  over  all 
the  twain  held  dearest  in  life. 

With  the  celerity  of  light,  coats  were  doffed  and  shoes  cast  off, 
and  the  two  leaped  from  the  stone  quay  in  hope  and  dread,  but 
the  good  old  dog  was  before  them,  its  teeth  in  a  child's  coat, 
swimming  to  the  shore.  Almost  as  Jabez  touched  the  water,  a 
sinking  woman  clutched  his  legs.  With  a  plunge  he  freed  himself, 
then  catching  at  her  long  hair,  towed  her  behind  him  to  the  side, 
and  swam  back  to  seek  and  save  his  own  wife  and  little  ones,  if 
that  were  possible. 

A  floating  scarf,  a  mass  of  matchless  brown  curls,  a  hand  and 
arm  above  the  water,  and  Jabez  knew  that  Augusta  Aspinall  was 
sinking  there  before  him.  A  few  strokes  brought  him  to  the  spot; 
he  dived ;  a  youth  was  clinging  to  her  skirts,  and  held  her  down. 
One  or  both  must  have  drowned.  With  a  blow  which  went  to  his 
heart,  he  freed  her,  and,  catching  her  beneath  the  armpit,  held  her 
well  from  him  as  he  made  for  shore.  To  the  Humane  Society's 
men  he  yielded  her.  So  far  gone,  the  men  shook  their  heads 
over  the  lovely  woman,  as  though  she  were  beyond  help.  But 
they  bore  the  dripping  lady  to  the  sail-room  close  at  hand,  whilst 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  443 

Jabez,  taking  the  precaution  to  secure  a  rope  to  his  waist,  plunged 
boldly  into  the  midst  of  the  entangled  mass  in  quest  of  his  own. 

It  was  a  vain  search;  he  brought  one  strange  child,  and  then 
another  to  bank,  and  then  a  man  ;  but  he  was  again  laid  hold  of 
when  his  strength  was  exhausted  ;  and  only  for  the  precautionary 
rope,  he  would  have  given  to  the  greedy  river  the  life  Simon  Clegg 
had  saved  from  it. 

Travis  had  the  good  fortune  to  rescue  Mr.  Ashton,  but  he  had 
been  some  time  in  the  water,  and  the  old  man  was  far  spent;  but 
there  was  no  trace  of  Ellen  or  her  boys,  even  though  he  dived  close 
by  the  sunken  flat,  and  brought  up  lifeless  bodies  in  their  stead. 

Jabez  and  he  could  only  hope  some  other  of  the  brave  men, 
putting  their  own  lives  in  peril,  had  saved  them. 

The  governor  of  the  gaol  had  opened  his  house  doors,  the 
recovered  dead  were  carried  into  the  gaol  itself,  the  sail-maker's 
room  was  crowded,  every  tavern  near  was  filled,  but  no  trace  was 
found  of  Ellen  or  their  sons,  and  Jabez  was  like  one  distraught. 

He  was  but  one  agitated  atom  in  that  seething,  surging,  frantic 
crowd,  where  women  shrieked  for  their  husbands,  parents  for  their 
children,  children  for  their  parents ;  where  passing  strangers  threw 
themselves  into  the  water  to  save  life,  and  lost  their  own  ;  where 
ignorance  lifted  the  hapless  by  the  heels  "  to  pour  the  water  out " 
and  extinguished  the  last  spark  of  vitality;  and  where  yelping 
dogs  astray  were  caught  and  slaughtered,  that  medical  skill  might 
transfuse  the  warm  blood  of  the  lesser  animal  into  the  veins  of 
the  human,  as  a  last  resource  to  restore  suspended  animation. 
Even  gallant  old  Nelson  narrowly  escaped  falling  a  sacrifice  to 
the  surgeons. 

Jabez  entered  the  room  where  Augusta  Ashton  was  lying,  to 
all  appearance,  dead — ordinary  means  of  resuscitation  having 
failed,  and  a  surgeon  was  about  so  to  operate  on  her  from  a 
bleeding  spaniel  on  the  ground.  Jabez  shrank  with  a  strange 


444  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

loathing  ;  in  an  instant  bared  his  arm  to  the  doctor's  lancet ; 
and  if  he  did  not  give  his  life  to  serve  her,  as  he  had  once  said, 
he  gave  his  life's  blood  to  save  her;  and  as  the  warm  fluid 
passed  from  his  quick  veins  to  hers,  he  saw  the  blue,  quivering 
lids  tremble,  light  pass  into  the  brown  eyes,  breath  part  the  blue 
lips  once  more,  and  from  the  depths  of  his  anguished  heart  he 
thanked  God  as  a  faint  "Jabez"  indicated  recognition  as  well  as 
returning  animation. 

He  had  restored  a  wife  to  thankless  Aspinall  ;  but  who  should 
restore  to  him  the  darling  boys  who  had  crept  about  his  knees 
and  round  his  heart,  and  the  good  wife  who  had  won  a  place 
there,  in  spite  of  fate,  by  her  own  patient,  but  intense,  love? 

The  Emma  was  raised  and  floated,  so  little  damaged  that 
she  was  speedily  ready  for  use,  and  continued  so  for  many 
years.  In  her  cabin  were  found  the  remains  of  Ellen  and  her 
sons,  where  the  childish  curiosity  of  the  elder  one  had  doubtless 
led  all  three ;  but  they  were  raised  from  the  water  only  to 
be  committed  to  the  earth,  and  covered  up  out  of  sight  and 
hearing  for  evermore ;  and  never  did  Jabez  know  fully  all  she 
had  become  to  him  until  he  stood  with  Travis  by  the  side  of  an 
open  grave,  and  heard  the  clods  rattle  on  the  coffin  lid.  She 
was  all  as  one  then  to  the  man  who  had  worshipped  her,  and 
the  man  she  had  worshipped  ;  and  though  the  babe  she  had  left 
behind  was  nearer  to  the  one,  it  would  be  hard  to  say  to  which 
little  Nelly  was  the  dearer  in  the  aftertime. 

Including  the  bodies  found  beneath  the  flat  and  those  laid  out 
in  the  gaol  and  elsewhere  for  inquest,  thirty-three  lives  were 
sacrificed  on  the  altar  of  the  Emma;  and  of  these  must  be 
reckoned  the  brave  men  who  cast  their  lives  away  to  rescue 
others. 

Among  the  early  saved  were  the  Captain,  Miss  Grimes,  and 
her  sister,  the  two  latter  being  hastily  conveyed  home  in  a 


MRS.    ABEL    HEYWOOD    (MISS    GRIMES). 
From  a  Photograpli. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  445 

private  carriage  (mayhap  Mr.  Aspinall's),  with  coats  and  cloaks 
wrapped  around  their  saturated  garments. 

Good,  kind,  genial  Mr.  Ashton  never  recovered  from  the  effects 
of  his  long  immersion.  He  was  a  man  far  advanced  in  years, 
and  the  shock  was  too  much  for  him.  He  hobbled  about  the 
warehouse,  snuff-box  in  hand,  a  few  months,  and  then  dropped 
asleep  in  his  easy  chair  after  a  game  of  cribbage  with  Jabez — 
never  to  wake  again. 

And  then  the  excitement  and  agitation  consequent  on  the  loss 
of  his  dear  Ellen  and  her  romping  boys  having  brought  on  Mr. 
Chadwick  a  fresh  attack  of  paralysis,  which  left  him  still  more 
helpless  (though  he  survived  many  years  to  pet  and  spoil  Ellen's 
baby-girl),  Mrs.  Ashton,  lonely  in  her  large  house,  proposed  that 
her  sister's  family  (Jabez  included)  should  join  her  in  George 
Street ;  but  when  she  would  have  said  "  the  more  the  merrier,"  the 
words  died  on  her  lips.  Who  were  they  but  the  survivors  of  two 
wrecked  households  ? 

After  a  little  hesitation  the  offer  was  accepted,  and  the  whole 
family  gathered  in  their  shorn  proportions  under  one  roof.  But 
there  was  another  proposition  from  another  quarter,  to  which  there 
was  considerably  more  demur.  Mrs.  Hulme,  in  a  warm,  grey- 
duffle-cloak,  for  the  preservation  of  her  new  mourning,  travelled 
from  VVhaley  Bridge,  to  ask  as  a  favour  that  baby  Nelly  should 
be  committed  to  her  care. 

"You  see,  Mrs.  Chaddick,  th'  poor  little  babby'll  thrive  better 
yond  than  here  i'  th'  smooak ;  an'  aw'd  fain  do  summat  for 
Mester  Clegg,  he  have  done  so  much  fur  feyther  an " 

Jabez  interrupted  her. 

"  Hush !  Mrs.  Hulme.  I  owe  life,  and  all  that  life  has  given, 
to  your  father  and  yourself.  What  little  I  have  done  in  return 
has  been  but  dust  in  the  balance.  Yet  as  it  is  your  desire,  and 
I  know  baby  would  be  best  in  your  hands,  if  grandmother  will 


446  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

consent  to  part  with  her,  Nelly  and  her  nurse  shall  go  back  with 
you  for  the  coming  summer  months." 

And  so,  though  parting  with  Ellen's  baby  seemed  parting 
with  Ellen  over  again,  the  little  blossom  went  away  to  other 
blossoms  on  the  healthy  'hill-side. 

Tom  Hulme  was  no  longer  overlooker,  but  responsible  manager 
at  the  Whaley  Bridge  Mill,  with  a  good  salary ;  and  if  Jabez 
gratefully  traced  his  fortune  back  to  his  cradle,  so  too  did  the 
Hulmes  trace  their  amended  position  to  the  same  source.  But  Bess 
more  immediately  referred  to  the  benefit  Simon  Clegg  had  derived 
from  the  Buxton  Baths,  whither  Jabez  had  sent  him  year  after 
year,  for  the  relief  of  his  rheumatism,  and  to  his  care  of  steadfast 
little  Sim.  He  had  first  placed  the  crippled  lad  with  a  doctor 
celebrated  for  his  treatment  of  bodily  deformities,  under  whom  the 
boy's  bent  body  had  strengthened  and  straightened  considerably, 
and  then  removed  him  for  education  to  the  house  of  a  married 
clergyman,  where  there  were  no  rough  boys  to  torment  him. 
Jabez  knew  well  what  were  the  amenities  of  public  schools. 


CHAPTER    THE    FORTY-SEVENTH. 


THE  LAST  ACT. 

HE  catastrophe  which  deprived 
Laurence  Aspinall  of  a  father, 
and  had  almost  robbed  him 
of  a  loving,  patient  wife,  would 
have  steadied  any  man  less 
reckless  and  selfish  than  he. 
But  that  he  should  rescue 
strangers,  and  Jabez  save  his 
wife,  and  that  through  trans- 
fusion the  blood  of  Jabez 
should  course  through  Au- 
gusta's veins,  formed  a  com- 
bination of  mischances  beyond 
EMPTIES.  parallel,  and  the  honey  was 

changed  to  gall.     Nay,  he  was 

graceless    enough    to    exclaim,    in    the    first    burst    of   his    jealous 
rage,     "  I   would     rather    she    had   died    outright  than    have    that 

fellow    triumph    in    her    restoration    through    his    means.       D 

him!" 

And  yet  there  were  times  when  in  his  uxorious  fondness  he 
wholly  persuaded  himself,  and  half  persuaded  her,  that  his  very 
extravagances  arose  from  excess  of  love! 


448  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN, 

His  fancied  wrongs  culminated  when  first  the  will  of  his  father, 
and  after  a  brief  period  that  of  Augusta's  father,  were  read 
and  proved. 

The  former  set  forth  that,  disgusted  with  the  ungentleman-like 
excesses  of  his  son,  and  convinced  that  his  course  of  lavish 
extravagance  would  end  in  penury,  he  had  determined  to  settle 
on  his  son's  wife,  Augusta  Aspinall,  for  her  sole  use  and  benefit, 
the  house  and  premises  on  Ardwick  Green,  with  all  therein 
contained,  together  with  a  sufficient  sum  in  the  funds  to  maintain 
a  befitting  state;  in  the  event  of  her  decease,  the  reversion  to 
pass  to  any  child  or  children  she  had  or  might  hereafter  bear 
to  his  son  Laurence.  To  him  he  left  the  residue  of  his  means, 
and  the  old  business  in  Cannon  Street,  with  a  charge  to  apply 
himself  to  merchandise. 

The  latter  will,  though  equally  stringent,  was  a  much  more 
prolix  affair.  After  a  number  of  legacies,  of  which  Jabez  came  in 
for  one,  Mr.  Ashton  bequeathed  to  his  wife  all  other  properties 
whatsoever  he  died  possessed  of,  together  with  half  his  share  in 
the  firm  of  Ashton,  Chadwick,  Clegg,  and  Co. ;  the  other  half  to 
his  beloved  daughter,  limiting  the  annual  sum  she  was  to  draw 
from  the  firm,  and  which  was  in  nowise  to  pass  into  the  hands 
of  her  depraved  husband  ;  and  Jabez  Clegg  and  Benjamin  Travis 
were  appointed  executors  for  the  due  performance  of  its  provisions. 

Imagine  the  excitement  and  jealous  fury  of  Laurence  Aspinall 
on  thus  being  set  aside  even  by  his  own  father  and  superseded 
by  his  wife ;  and  as  if  that  were  not  sufficient  degradation,  to 
have  Jabez  Clegg,  whose  charity-school  face  yet  bore  the  impress 
of  his  foot,  set  as  his  wife's  executor,  to  dole  out  what  he  called 
a  "  pittance "  where  he  had  anticipated  a  fortune ! 

It  so  happened  that  the  early  duties  of  his  executorship  called 
Jabez  once  or  twice  unexpectedly  to  Fallowfield,  and  that  on  each 
occasion  the  master  of  the  mansion  was  from  home, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN,  44.9 

It  might  be  that  the  river  had  washed  the  roses  from  Augusta's 
cheeks  so  effectually  that  her  complexion  had  never  regained  its 
tone  ;  or  it  might  be  that  her  skin  looked  white  in  contrast  with 
the  blackness  of  her  bombazine  and  crape ;  certain  it  was  that 
Jabez  was  struck  with  the  pallor  of  her  countenance,  and  his  inquiry, 
"Are  you  not  well,  Mrs.  Aspinall  ?"  was  tinctured  with  alarm. 

As  a  light  flush  tinged  her  cheek,  then  faded  away  again,  and 
she  received  him  with  a  timid  indecision  very  unlike  her  former 
girlish  freedom,  a  sense  of  her  almost  supernal  loveliness  brought 
something  of  the  old  ache  into  his  heart,  and  out  of  respect  for 
himself  and  her,  he  hurried  over  his  business,  and  having  obtained 
the  signatures  for  which  he  came,  mounted  his  horse  and  rode 
back  to  town,  haunted  by  look,  and  voice,  and  manner. 

Yet  in  the  integrity  of  his  own  heart  he  had  no  conception 
that  her  embarrassment  was  the  result  of  fear — fear  of  the 
interpretation  her  jealous  madman  of  a  husband  would  put  on  so 
unwonted  a  visit. 

He  thought  he  saw  a  smile  of  malice  in  the  corners  of  the 
mouth  of  the  bold  woman  who  met  him  in  the  hall,  and  nodded 
to  him  so  freely  as  he  passed  her  on  his  way  out ;  but  no 
prescient  spirit  whispered  in  his  ear  that  his  twenty  minutes'  visit 
on  absolute  business  would  furnish  envy  and  jealousy  with  a 
pretext  for  foul-mouthed  slander,  for  coarse  vituperation,  for  the 
use  of  a  whip,  and  for  calumnious  accusations  which  cut  deeper 
than  its  lash. 

Cicily,  who  intervened  to  save  her  mistress,  might  have  conveyed 
some  inkling  of  this  to  Mrs.  Ashton,  but  Augusta  absolutely 
forbade  her  sympathetic  servant's  interference. 

"  You  would  do  no  good,  Cicily,"  she  said  ;  "  the  evil  is  beyond 
earthly  remedy;  you  would  only  distress  my  dear  mother  to  no 
purpose,  and  she  has  suffered  too  much  on  my  account  already. 
It  cannot  last  for  ever!" 

GG 


45°  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

On  the  next  occasion  Jabez  was  accompanied  by  his  joint- 
executor,  but  even  that  fact  did  not  save  Augusta  from  her 
husband's  wrath,  and  his  vile  aspersions  went  far  to  drive  out  the 
last  lingering  sentiment  of  affection  or  regard  she  had  for  him. 
But  she  clung  to  her  child,  and  that  bound  her  to  her  home  and 
him  whom  in  an  evil  hour  she  had  chosen ;  though  tears  fell 
bitterly  on  Willie's  curly  head,  when  he,  like  his  father,  gave  her 
back  blows  for  kisses.  And  if  at  times  her  conscience  smote  her 
for  her  haughty  repulse  of  Jabez  by  the  stair-foot  window  at  Carr 
Cottage,  what  wonder  ?  Had  not  Laurence  himself  scored  his 
rejected  rival's  name  on  her  heart  with  his  braces  and  whip-lash? 

She  shut  the  obtrusive  memory  out  with  a  shudder,  and, 
dropping  on  her  knees,  prayed  earnestly  for  strength  to  bear  and 
to  forbear. 

Yet  much  of  the  cruelty  of  Laurence  at  this  time  arose  from 
another  source  than  causeless  jealousy.  He  had  been  living  far 
beyond  his  private  means,  and  was  greatly  involved.  He  had 
calculated  on  laying  his  hand  on  a  good  round  sum,  and  was 
disappointed.  In  order,  however,  to  raise  the  needful,  he  sold  his 
father's  old-established  concern  to  their  head  clerk,  far  below  its 
value.  On  the  Fallowfield  estate  his  friend  Barret  held  a 
mortgage,  and,  had  it  been  possible,  he  would  similarly  have 
disposed  of  Augusta's  possessions.  Here,  however,  he  was  doubly 
baffled,  and  he  turned  on  her  as  the  primary  cause. 

The  old  law  which  preserved  the  woman's  absolute  right  over 
properties  legally  settled  upon  herself,  by  strange  anomaly  did  not 
secure  to  her  one  guinea  of  the  coin  those  properties  produced. 

Well  did  Jabez  watch  over  Augusta's  interest,  but  his  heart 
ached  as  he  saw  her  sad  countenance,  and  the  greedy  triumphant 
eyes  of  ever-present  Laurence  when  her  dividends  were  paid 
in.  For,  before  his  very  face,  Laurence  laid  his  hand  upon  the 
money,  to  squander  it  as  he  had  squandered  his  own  on  Sarah 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  451 

Mostyn    and   other   dissolute  companions,   leaving   his   wife  without 
so   much  as   would    purchase  a   pocket-handkerchief. 

Then,  lest  she  should  make  her  wrongs  known,  he  kept  her 
a  close  prisoner  at  Fallowfield,  and,  for  all  the  pleasure  she  had 
of  her  Ardwick  mansion,  she  might  as  well  have  been  without 
it. 

No  wonder  if  each  fresh  act  of  personal  violence  snapped 
some  bond  between  them,  until  the  only  one  link  to  bind  her  to 
life  and  her  husband  was  her  boy  Willie  ;  whilst  the  only  human 
trait  of  Laurence  was  his  fondness  for  his  son,  whom  he  was 
rapidly  ruining  with  false  indulgence,  as  he  himself  had  been 
ruined. 

It  was  customary,  when  the  hay-making  season  came  round, 
for  Laurence  to  gather  such  friends  as  his  wife  or  he  retained — 
the  married  with  their  children — for  a  frolic  in  the  hayfields,  and 
the  bringing  home  the  last  waggon-load  in  triumph  to  crown  or 
inaugurate  a  feast. 

On  these  occasions  he  had  the  grace,  or  the  diplomacy,  to  keep 
Sarah  Mostyn  in  the  background,  though  she  flaunted  boldly 
enough  about  the  house  in  the  presence  of  his  wife,  and  her 
child  mingled  with  the  children. 

The  harvest-home  of  1831  was  attended  with  the  customary 
festivities,  Willie,  a  rough  playmate,  was  half  smothering  Nelly 
Clegg  in  the  hay,  or  chasing  the  Walmsleys  amongst  the  haycocks, 
until  the  last  load  was  ready,  and  then  the  boy  insisted  that  he 
and  his  companions  should  be  mounted  atop.  Shouts  and  cheers 
announced  their  coming  to  the  party  in  the  drawing-room  ;  they 
came  crowding  to  the  windows,  and,  the  glass-door  being  open, 
one  or  two  sauntered  out  on  to  the  flagged  walk.  Merrily  they 
came  along  the  gravelled  drive,  under  the  hot  sun,  dreaming  of 
no  danger,  Willie  clapping  his  hands  and  calling,  "Look  at  us 
papa,"  when,  right  in  front  of  the  drawing-room  window,  the  pin 


452  THE  MANCHESTER   MAN. 

which  held  the  body  of  the  cart  down,  by  some  means  became 
displaced,  the  cart  tilted  up,  and  hay  and  children  were  sent 
flying. 

Beyond  a  few  bruises,  none  of  the  children  were  injured  but 
one  ;  they  had  fallen  amongst  hay,  or  on  the  spongy  lawn  ;  but 
Willie,  the  one  jewel  in  the  Aspinall  casket,  pitched  with  his  head 
on  the  flagged  pavement,  and  was  killed  on  the  spot. 

Draw  we  the  curtain  over  consternation  and  bereavement,  and 
pass  on  to  results.  If  a  change  came  over  Laurence,  it  was  not 
for  the  better.  He  drank  incessantly,  became  alternately  moody 
and  defiant,  and  added  a  coping-stone  to  his  offences  by  placing 
Sarah  Mostyn  at  his  table  by  the  side  of  his  wife,  and  boldly 
avowing  that  her  child  was  his  child  also. 

Then  all  the  woman  rose  within  Augusta,  so  long  cowed  and 
dispirited.  She  left  the  table,  and,  the  insult  being  repeated, 
again  retired  in  indignation. 

Of  the  servants  none  had  pitied  her  so  much  as  Cicily,  but 
for  whom  communication  with  her  friends  had  been  cut  off. 
Often  had  the  former  waxed  savage  over  indignities  she  could 
neither  check  nor  prevent ;  but  in  many  little  ways  the  faithful 
domestic  was  enabled  to  ameliorate  the  condition  of  her  mistress. 
Now  that  Mrs.  Aspinall — more  lovely  in  her  sad  womanhood 
than  in  her  brilliant  girlhood — was  virtually  supplanted,  a  prisoner 
under  torture  in  her  husband's  house,  with  no  tie  of  motherhood 
to  bind  her  there,  her  old  nurse,  as  the  mouthpiece  of  Mrs. 
Ashton  and  her  aunt  Chadwick,  had  urged  upon  her  once  more 
the  necessity  for  legal  separation,  and  she  no  longer  turned  a 
deaf  ear. 

When  Jabez  came  to  hand  over  the  next  quarter's  dividends 
Travis  accompanied  him,  and  then  Augusta,  in  the  presence  of 
both  her  executors,  demanded  and  claimed  her  right  to  a  legal 
separation  from  her  husband. 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN,  453 

Laurence,  taken  by  surprise,  started  to  his  feet,  then,  resuming 
his  seat,  said,  with  a  scowl  and  a  contemptuous  sneer — 

"You  had  better  obtain  a  divorce,  madam,  whilst  you  are 
about  it.  Mr.  Clegg  will  not  object  to  the  cost,  if  you  can  only 
be  made  Mrs.  Clegg  by  Act  of  Parliament." 

It  was  a  cruel  and  uncalled-for  sneer,  and  Travis,  firing  up, 
resented  it  for  his  friend,  who  appeared  dumbfounded  by  the 
suggestion. 

"  If  she  had  been  Mrs.  Clegg,  sir,  instead  of  Mrs.  Aspinall, 
there  would  have  been  no  necessity  now  for  the  interference  of 
friends  for  her  protection  ! " 

"  Of  course  not,"  sneered  Aspinall.  "  Mr.  Clegg  is  the  white 
hen  that  never  lays  away ;  and  now,  having  favoured  you  with 
one  of  Mrs.  Ashton's  pithy  proverbs,  perhaps,  gentlemen,  you  will 
favour  me  by  taking  your  departure ;  this  house  and  this  lady  are 
alike  my  property." 

The  value  he  set  upon  the  latter  article  of  property  was 
testified  by  an  immediate  application  of  a  horsewhip,  so  savagely 
applied  that  even  Bob,  and  Luke  the  gardener,  drawn  thither 
by  Augusta's  screams,  wrenched  the  whip  from  him,  and 
covered  her  escape,  the  latter  declaring  he  would  "  no  longer 
stay  an'  witness  sich  wark." 

To  this  man,  who  was  also  gatekeeper,  Cicily  crept  at  nightfall, 
and  offered  him  a  goodly  sum  down,  out  of  her  own  savings, 
promising  a  much  larger  one  from  Mrs.  Aspinall,  with  the  offer 
of  a  new  situation  at  Ardwick,  if  he  would  only  suffer  her  ill-used 
mistress  to  "get  clear  o'  that  brute's  violence." 

The  man,  to  his  credit  be  it  told,  refused  the  money,  but 
opened  the  gate ;  and,  when  Laurence  wakened  from  his  sodden 
sleep  at  noon  the  next  day,  wife,  cook,  and  gardener  were  missing. 

The  three  had  walked  to  Ardwick,  and  once  there,  though 
Augusta  found  sad  havoc  had  been  made  in  the  place,  all  was 


454  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

her  own,  carnage  included,  and  the  domestics  in  charge  welcomed 
her  with  gladness. 

Without  waiting  for  even  the  show  of  a  breakfast,  Augusta 
hurried  like  a  frightened  bird  to  her  mother's  nest  in  George 
Street,  where  alone  she  felt  secure. 

Jabez  and  Travis  were  summoned,  and  when  Aspinall,  recovering 
from  his  stupor,  sought  his  human  property  at  Ardwick,  he  found 
the  trustee  under  his  father's  will — a  Mr.  Lillie — holding  the  place 
for  Augusta  in  right  of  his  trust.  And  in  George  Street  he  was 
refused  admission,  Mrs.  Ashton  justifying  her  daughter's  flight 
with  "self-preservation  is  the  first  law  of  nature.  A  good  Jack 
makes  a  good  Jill.  It  is  the  last  straw  breaks  the  camel's  back. 
If  you  sow  the  wind,  you  must  reap  the  whirlwind.  He  who 
beats  his  friend  makes  an  enemy." 

He  threatened,  and  she  answered — 

"Threatened  folk  live  long.  You  had  best,  Mr.  Aspinall,  keep 
your  breath  to  cool  your  porridge.  Augusta's  friends  will  defend 
her  from  her  only  enemy.  Pending  separation  you  see  her  no 
more." 

He  never  saw  her  more.  The  deed  of  separation  was  sealed 
but  never  signed. 

With  Augusta,  all  good  angels  seemed  to  have  flown  from 
Fallowfield.  In  his  demoniac  passion,  he  strove  to  blacken  her 
character,  to  find  himself  met  with  laughter — his  own  life  had 
been  so  chaste  !  Whilst,  as  if  to  refute  him,  when  she  took  refuge 
with  her  mother,  Jabez  deemed  it  a  point  of  honour  to  retreat. 
Accordingly  he  took  up  his  temporary  abode  with  Travis,  in 
delicacy  towards  her,  and  as  a  check  upon  himself.  No  act,  or 
thought,  or  word  of  his  must  give  an  evil  tongue  a  chance  to  foul 
that  spotless  woman  with  its  slime. 

In  the  midst  of  all  this,  Aspinall's  embarrassments  increased. 
Creditors  pressed  ;  writs  showered  in  upon  him  ;  Barret  foreclosed, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  455 

and  men  were  put  in  possession  of  the  Grange.  He  flew  to  his 
old  remedy,  and  it  drove  him  mad,  Lancaster  Gaol  for  debtors 
loomed  upon  him.  From  his  chamber  window  he  beheld  a  sheriffs 
officer  approach  with  a  warrant.  His  cavalry-pistols  were  in  his 
dressing-room.  A  sharp  report  rang  through  the  house.  Laurence 
Aspinall,  in  the  prime  of  life,  delirious  with  drink,  driven  to 
desperation  by  his  own  profligate  excess,  set  a  blood-red  seal  on 
the  deed  of  separation. 

***** 

Ten  years  had  passed  from  the  partnership  of  Ashton, 
Chadwick,  and  Clegg — years  in  which  money  well  employed  had 
multiplied  itself.  Jabez  was  a  rich  man — a  man  of  influence  in 
the  town  ;  no  longer  the  amateur  artist,  but  the  patron  of  art,  as 
well  Henry  Liverseege  and  others  could  have  told.  As  he  had 
been  one  of  the  first  promoters  and  directors  of  the  Manchester 
Mechanics'  Institution,  so  was  he  now  the  supporter  of  the  Royal 
Institution  for  the  Advancement  of  Art ;  and  seeing  farther  than 
Mr.  Ashton,  who,  as  a  member  of  the  New  Quay  Navigation 
Company,  had  opposed  the  Act  for  a  railway  between  Manchester 
and  Liverpool,  he  threw  his  energy  into  the  project,  and  helped 
to  carry  it  out,  his  cousin  Travis  working  with  him. 

His  widowerhood  had  cast  a  gloom  over  him  for  a  time,  but 
he  left  himself  small  leisure  for  morbid  reflection,  and  that  was 
cheered  by  the  prattle  of  his  little  Nelly.  Then  came  the  crash 
at  Fallowfield,  and  when  darkness  set  upon  Aspinall  and  his  deeds, 
light  broke  upon  the  path  of  Jabez  Clegg — at  first  a  mere  ray, 
but  he  worked  the  more  cheerfully  in  its  light.  It  was  not  hope 
for  himself;  it  was  merely  a  joyful  consciousness  that  there  was 
hope  and  calm  in  the  sky  over  the  head  of  their  fluttering  and 
wounded  dove,  and  that  Augusta  could  now  rest  in  peace  with 
her  mother  in  the  house  at  Ardwick,  with  no  dread  of  a  brutal 
husband  bursting  on  them  unawares. 


456  fHB    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

He  came  and  went  as  friend  and  executor,  but  it  was  long 
before  it  flashed  across  his  comprehension  that  the  fearful  ordeal 
through  which  Augusta  had  passed  but  brought  his  old  master's 
daughter  closer  to  him ;  or  that  the  prayer  old  Simon  had  taught 
was  being  answered  to  the  full.  That  which  was  "  above  rubies " 
had  blessed  his  life,  and  kept  his  human  heart  warm  whilst  his 
"  coast  had  enlarged ; "  he  had  been  kept  from  the  evil  of  a 
wilful  and  capricious  wife ;  and  at  last  when  he  had  resigned  all 
prospect  of  setting  the  purified  pearl  as  a  star  on  his  own  breast, 
it  dropped  into  his  hand,  unsought,  unsolicited. 

He  had  schooled  his  heart,  we  know.  He  had  married  from 
a  sense  of  duty  and  grateful  compassion.  He  was  a  faithful 
husband  to  a  true  wife,  and  when  he  lost  her  he  mourned  her 
as  a  valued  friend.  But  though  all  the  early  love  of  his  being 
had  been  kept  alive  and  in  a  ferment  by  the  sufferings  of 
Augusta,  as  an  honourable  man  he  suffered  no  word  or  look  to 
betray  more  than  a  friend's  sympathy.  And  still  he  kept  as 
strong  a  guard  over  himself,  though  the  tragic  end  of  Laurence 
had  set  her  free  once  more. 

The  last  fatal  act  struck  a  sensitive  chord  in  Augusta's  nature. 
There  was  no  exultation  at  release.  For  a  time  she  lost  sight 
of  his  profligacy  and  cruelty,  and  accused  herself  of  having 
hastened  the  catastrophe  by  leaving  him  to  his  own  unbridled 
will  and  the  temptress  by  his  side.  She  wept  for  the  handsome 
lover  who  had  captivated  her  young  fancy  ;  she  mourned  for  the 
besotted  soul  gone  to  its  account  with  all  its  imperfections  rampant. 

"  Let  her  alone,"  said  Mrs.  Ashton  to  her  sister ;  "  the  sharpest 
shower  wears  itself  out  soonest ;  she  will  come  to  her  senses 
long  before  her  crape  is  worn  out." 

Mrs.  Ashton  was  a  true  prophetess.  For  a  long  time  the 
Fallowfield  tragedy  cast  a  shadow  over  the  house  at  Ardwick, 
and  they  led  very  retired  lives.  Then  harp  and  piano  were 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  457 

heard  once  more,  visitors  were  admitted,  and  the  mansion  that 
Kezia  and  Cicily  united  in  declaring  "  worse  than  a  nunnery," 
grew  bright  and  cheerful,  though  the  widow's  weeds  were  not 
cast  aside.  (Kitty  had  been  laid  under  the  mould  whilst 
Augusta  was  yet  a  bride.) 

Almost  two  years  had  elapsed.  Suitors  in  plenty  had  been 
attracted  by  the  wealthy  young  widow's  many  charms,  her  old 
admirer,  Mr.  Marsland,  among  the  rest,  yet  Mrs.  Aspinall  showed 
no  disposition  to  change  her  state ;  and  the  one  man  who  had 
loved  her  longest  and  best  was  not  of  the  number  at  her  feet. 
He  scorned  to  importune  now  in  his  widowerhood  for  the  love 
withheld  when  they  were  both  young.  He  counted  age  by 
events,  not  years. 

It  was  for  Augusta  noiv,  she  who  had  been  taught  by  her 
very  husband's  taunts  and  sneers  to  think  upon  the  true  man 
she  had  set  aside,  to  think  of  him  daily  and  hourly  with  rapidly 
strengthening  attachment,  and  think  of  him  as  one  who  had 
dropped  her  from  the  book  of  his  life  for  ever.  Her  whole 
thought  was  how  could  she  become  worthy  the  love  of  such  a 
man  ;  yet  every  day  and  hour  the  fear  pressed  heavily  upon  her 
that  the  quiet  virtues  of  Ellen  had  driven  her  out  of  his  heart 
altogether.  Of  all  her  guests  he  was  the  one  most  welcome, 
most  desired,  but  he  was  the  one  she  received  with  most  reserve, 
the  one  whose  stay  was  briefest,  whose  visits  fewest.  "  Business " 
appeared  to  have  more  imperative  claims  on  him  than  when  he 
had  his  way  to  make ;  and  Augusta,  whose  sables  had  long 
since  been  cast  aside,  seemed  to  wear  them  on  her  heart.  The 
vivacity  which  had  never  wholly  forsaken  her  in  all  her  trials, 
forsook  her  now — she  grew  listless  and  melancholy. 

Meanwhile  Captain  Richard  Chadwick  had  come  home  on  half- 
pay  to  brighten  up  the  somewhat  dull  house  in  George  Street, 
and  comfort  the  old  folk — to  say  nothing  of  astonishing  Sim  and 


45^  THE    MANCHESTER    MAN. 

Nelly  with  his  long  yarns  and  adventures.  Sim  always  spent 
part  of  his  vacations  with  Mr.  Clegg,  who  well  paid  back  to  Bess 
all  her  early  care  for  him.  He  indulged  the  boy's  craving  for 
books  and  pencils,  first  implanted  by  himself,  and  in  which  he 
saw  the  dawn  of  his  future  career.  That  which  in  his  own  case 
had  been  repressed  and  subordinated  to  trade  and  money-making, 
should  not  be  so  checked  in  that  boy ;  and  old  Simon,  to  whom 
the  lad  appeared  a  marvel,  never  ceased  to  pride  himself  on  his 
forecast  in  pronouncing  Jabez  a  "Godsend." 

It  was  during  the  second  summer  of  her  widowhood,  when 
Augusta  accompanied  her  mother  (not  a  whit  the  less  stately 
than  of  yore)  to  Carr  Cottage  for  the  first  time  since  her 
attempted  elopement,  that  the  feeling  of  all  she  had  cast  from 
her,  and  all  that  she  had  brought  upon  herself,  all  that  might 
have  been,  and  now  never  would  be,  pressed  heaviest  upon  her. 
She  had  gone  thoughtfully  over  the  old  ground,  had  trod  the 
nettle-grown  Lovers'  Walk,  and  sat  down  on  the  open  window- 
ledge  at  the  stairfoot  as  once  before,  and  wept  tears  of  penitent 
bitterness.  How  long  she  sat  there  she  could  not  tell ;  she  was 
weeping  for  a  life  lost  and  a  love  rejected.  As  once  before,  ths 
voice  of  Jabez  (whom  she  imagined  eighteen  miles  away)  broke 
upon  her  solitude,  but  now  it  thrilled  through  her. 

There   was   a  light  touch   upon   her  shoulder. 

"Mrs.   Aspinall?" 

She  shuddered. 

"  Oh  1  don't  call  me  by  that  name — here ! "  broke  from  her, 
imploringly. 

"What  name  shall  I  call  you  by?"  half  wonderingly  ;  then,  in 
in  a  lower  semi-smothered  tone  of  entreaty — "Augusta?" 

Lower  sank  her  head  in  her  hands  ;  but  there  was  no  answer 
save  her  sobs.  It  was  thus  he  had  addressed  her  there  once 
before, 


THE    MANCHESTER    MAN.  459 

"Augusta!" — and  this  time  the  hand  on  her  shoulder  shook 
— "Augusta — dear  Augusta,  once  on  this  very  spot  I  found  you 
weeping  thus,  and  I  begged  to  be  allowed  to  share  your 
grief.  I  told  you  I  would  give  my  life  to  serve  you — what  I 
said  then  I  repeat  now — I  would  give  my  life  to  serve  you, 
and  you  know  it!"  He  gently  drew  one  hand  from  her 
agitated  face.  "  Tell  me  your  trouble,  as  you  would  tell  it  to 
a  brother!" 

A  brother — ah,  that  was  it!  She  drew  her  hand  back,  but  she 
did  not  rise,  and  her  sobs  seemed  to  choke  her. 

Again  he  took  her  hand,  and  his  other  arm  went  round  her 
soothingly,  protectingly.  "Oh,  Augusta,  this  is  inexpressibly 
painful  to  me.  I  love  you,  as  never  man  loved  woman.  Can  you 
not  tell  me  what  troubles  you?"  and  the  earnest  tenderness  of 
his  voice  made  strange  music  in  her  ears. 

He  had  seated  himself  on  the  narrow  window-ledge  beside  her, 
and  now  he  thought  she  was  about  to  punish  his  presumption 
and  quit  him  haughtily  as  before. 

But  no!  She  only  slid  from  his  arm  to  his  very  feet,  and 
cried,  with  still  covered  face — 

"  Oh,  Jabez — dear  Jabez,  forgive  me  all  I  made  you  suffer  here  ; 
for  oh!  I  have  repented  bitterly." 

He  was  stunned,  bewildered.  His  passionate  declaration  of 
love  was  made  as  a  claim  to  her  confidence,  not  to  her  affection ; 
and  now — "dear  Jabez!"  Did  he  hear  aright?  For  an  instant 
he  was  silent  from  very  incapacity  to  speak.  Her  bent  head 
touched  his  knees. 

Slowly,  reverently,  as  if  she  had  been  a  saint,  with  every 
nerve  of  his  strong  frame  trembling  with  emotion,  he  raised  her 
from  the  ground ;  but  no  arm  went  round  her  now.  He  held 
both  her  hands  in  his,  and  looked  steadfastly  down  upon  her ; 
but  no  answer  made  he  to  her  plea  for  pardon.  Constraint  in 


460  THE  MANCHESTER  MAN. 

voice    and    words    was    apparent    and    painful,   but   emotion   grew 
too   strong  for   control. 

"Augusta,  what   is   the   meaning  of  this?      For   God's   sake   do 
not  mislead  me !     I  seem  on  the  threshold  of  Heaven  or  madness. 
Is  it  possible  that  I,  plain   Jabez   Clegg,   can   be   'dear'  to   you?" 
"Dearer   than   life!" 

Clear,  full,  and  earnest  came  the  words  from  her  soul,  clear 
and  truthful  were  the  eyes  that  now  sought  his. 

"Thank  God!" 

He  held  her  in  his  arms  with  a  straining  clasp,  which  told 
how  long  they  had  quivered  to  embrace  her  so.  His  eyes  lit  up 
with  an  intensity  of  love  she  knew  not  he  could  feel,  and  never 
had  his  lips  met  woman's  in  such  fond  kisses  as  he  pressed 
on  hers. 

The  concentrated  love  of  years  seemed  gathered  to  a  focus 
then.  "Life  of  my  life!"  he  called  her,  and  she  knew  and  felt 
it  was  so. 

If  the  shade  of  the  departed  Ellen  could  have  looked  upon 
them  there,  remembering  how  she  had  rushed  to  his  embrace  in 
that  very  spot,  and  how  different  had  been  the  kiss  imprinted  on 
her  wifely  brow,  would  she  have  reproached  him?  I  wis  not. 

Is  it  needful  to  add  that,  before  the  summer  waned,  the 
Manchester  Man,  rapidly  rising  into  public  note  and  favour, 
entered  into  another  partnership ;  or  that  Jabez  Clegg,  in  right 
of  Augusta  his  wife,  took  possession  of  the  mansion  at  Ardvvick, 
to  the  satisfaction  of  Mrs.  Ashton,  who  said,  "  Better  late  than 
never!"  Or  to  tell  how  the  trade  of  Ashton,  Chadwick,  Clegg 
and  Co.  continued  to  extend  ?  Or  that  Travis  remained  Co.  to 
the  end  of  the  chapter — the  children's  Co.  never  taking  a  wife 
unto  himself, 

THE   END. 


APPENDIX    No.   I. 


T  N  the  foregoing  story  of  the  :t  Manchester  Man,"  I  have  in  a  great  measure 
•*•  dealt  with  history,  recorded  and  unrecorded,  with  absolute  people,  events, 
and  places. 

I  have  not  thought  it  advisable  to  break  the  narrative  with  cumbrous  foot-notes 
calculated  to  disturb  the  general  reader;  but  I  consider  an  elucidating  Appendix  clue 
alike  to  myself  and  to  all  those  who,  in  perusing  a  work  of  this  kind,  care  to  dis- 
criminate fact  from  fiction. 

Little  of  the  Manchester  I  have  depicted  remains  intact,  a  whirlwind  of 
improvement  (!)  has  swept  over  the  town,  but  old  inhabitants  will,  I  think, 
recognise  the  faithfulness  of  my  descriptions,  as  they  will  remember  many  of  the 
persons  who  come  and  go  incidentally  throughout. 

CHAP.  I.— After  writing  this  chapter,  I  learned  that  a  cradled  infant  was  washed 
down  the  Irwell  from  the  Broughton,  not  the  Smedley  and  Irk  side,  in  the  flood 
of  1837.  I  was  familiar  with  the  incident  I  relate  when  I  was  quite  a  child 
myself,  and  I  am  now  fifty-four. 

The  two  cases  are  therefore  distinct,  yet  equally  facts.  In  1771,  during  the 
floods  which  swept  away  Tyne  Bridge,  Newcastle,  a  vessel  took  up  at  sea  a  cradle 
in  which  was  a  child  alive  and  well. 

CHAP.  III. — The  Rev.  Joshua  Brookes  comes  into  my  pages  naturally — no  story 
of  Manchester  life  at  the  commencement  of  this  century  would  be  complete  without 
him.  I  have  endeavoured  to  do  justice  to  a  little-understood  man.  Many  of  his 
eccentricities  are  on  record.  At  my  own  baptism  and  my  mother's  churching, 
occurred  the  scene  which  I  have  endeavoured  to  reproduce;  the  delicate  lady  pushed 
and  pulled  about  was  a  stranger  to  my  mother  and  sponsors.  A  characteristic 
anecdote,  which  I  have  not  met  with  in  print,  may  not  be  out  of  place  here. 

A  printer,  of  Republican  tendencies,  named  Cowdroy,  took  his  son  to  the  font, 
and  on  the  child's  name  being  required,  answered  "Citizen!" — "Citizen?"  growled. 
Joshua,  "  that's  no  name.  I  shall  not  give  the  child  a  name  like  that  !  "  "  I've 
a  right  to  call  my  child  what  name  I  please,  and  I  dare  you  to  baptise  him 
otherwise,"  boldly  asserted  Mr.  Cowdroy.  "  Oh,  you  may  call  him  Beelzebub 
if  you  like,"  testily  responded  the  chaplain,  and  Citizen  the  boy  was  accordingly 
baptized;  and  the  large  signboard  of  C.  Cowdroy,  Printer,  overlooked  the  Old 
Churchyard  long  years  after  Joshua  Brookes  was  laid  low  in  dust  and  ashes. 


462  APPENDIX  I. 

His  odd  friendship  with  old  Mrs.  Clowes  is  matter  of  fact.  Similar  scenes  to  those  I 
have  described  took  place  at  funerals  and  weddings  when  he  officiated;  and  his  last 
contest  with  the  Grammar  School  boys  may  be  found  in  Har^and's  "  Collectanea," 

CHAPS.  IV.  and  V. — The  little  girl  who  made  her  way  into  the  presence  ot 
Prince  William,  sat  on  his  knee  and  amused  him  and  his  suite  with  details  of 
toilettes  in  progress  at  home,  to  be  rewarded  with  a  plain  shilling,  the  required 
information,  and  a  bow  as  the  cortlge  passed  down  Oldham  Street,  was  Amelia 
Daniel,  in  after  years  my  own  mother.  The  incident  of  the  falling  platform  on 
Sale  Moor  is  noted  in  history. 

CHAP.  VII. — Mrs.  Clowes  was  as  eccentric  in  her  way  as  Parson  Brookes ;  but 
beyond  her  dealings  with  the  chaplain  and  school-boys,  her  journey  to  Liverpool, 
her  Sabbath  dinners  to  the  poor,  and  her  attire,  her  place  in  this  story  belongs  to 
the  region  of  fiction.  Her  shop  passed  to  a  relative,  but  the  date  of  her  death  is 
unknown  to  the  writer. 

CHAPS,  XVIII.  and  XIX.—  Peterloo  is  rapidly  passing  out  of  remembrance,  and 
those  who  were  not  themselves  eye-witnesses  may  accuse  me  of  exaggeration.  To 
such  I  can  only  say  that  I  have  had  my  details  from  actors  or  spectators.  The 
house  I  have  assigned  to  Mr.  Chadwick  in  Oldham  Street,  was  occupied  by  my 
maternal  grandfather,  John  Daniel,  and  he  was  the  paralysed  old  gentleman  in 
charge  of  his  servant  Molly,  who,  but  for  the  timely  interposition  of  a  young  man 
named  Tomlinson,  one  of  his  own  weavers,  and  Mr.  Mabbott,  would  have  been  cut 
down.  His  daughters,  anxious  for  his  safety,  looking  out  for  his  return  home  from 
the  warehouse,  saw  from  their  open  window  more  than  I  describe ;  for  one  thing— 
a  woman  passed  with  her  breast  cut  off;  the  two  vaunting  officers  who  reared 
their  steeds  against  the  house  with  threats  were  a  cousin  and  a  f.anci\  the  man 
who  was  shot  down  in  Ancoats  Lane,  whilst  bidding  fit's  girls  to  retire,  was,  I 
believe,  my  grandfather's  tenant.  The  female  sabred  on  the  hustings  was  a  Mrs. 
Fildes  when  I  knew  her.  Her  son,  Henry  Hunt  Fildes,  was  in  my  father's 
employ  ;  and  his  nephew  is  now  an  artist  not  altogether  unknown  to  the  world. 
From  Miss  Hindley  I  had  nine  years  ago  the  story  of  her  father's  fall.  The 
author  of  the  satire  on  the  yeomanry  was  my  paternal  grandfather,  James  Varley, 
of  Pendleton. 

CHAP.  XXXIII. — For  the  purpose  of  my  narrative,  I  have  antedated  an  occurrence 
in  the  Theatre  Royal.  I  was  myself  the  little  miss  who  cried  out  in  alarm  that 
Edmund  Kean  was  >;  killing  Mrs.  McGibbon,"  but  it  was  a  few  years  later.  Mrs. 
Broadbent's  school  occupied  the  next  box  to  our  party  on  that  occasion.  I  need 
scarcely  add  that  I  have  drawn  that  lady,  her  schoolroom,  &c.,  from  information  and 
observation.  The  broken  collar-bone  is  not  an  invention. 

CHAPS.  XXIX.  and  XXX. — The  skating  incident  on  Ardwick  Green  Pond  was  an 
episode  in  the  early  life  of  the  same  John  Daniel  before-named.  Blindness  followed 
his  long  immersion,  and  when  all  remedies  known  in  the  last  century  failed,  he 
regained  his  sight  by  swimming  across  the  Mersey,  as  related.  I  owe  it  to  his 
memory  to  say  that  he  must  not  otherwise  be  confounded  with  the  man  whom  I 
have  called  Laurence  Aspinall. 


APPENDIX  I.  463 

CHAP.  XXXII. — The  Act  for  widening  Market  Street  was  obtained  in  1821 ;  but 
I  find  that  the  ancient  houses  did  not  begin  to  l!  crumble  into  dust  "  until  the 
following  year. 

CHAP.  XXXVIII. — "  I'll  please  my  eye  if  I  plague  my  heart,"  with  its 
answer  and  consequences,  formed  the  original  base  of  this  story ;  the  wilful  girl  and 
her  handsome  savage  of  a  husband  being  in  all  respects  but  their  names'  realities 
They  were  both  in  their  graves  before  the  period  I  assign  to  their  union.  The 
old  Hall  which  witnessed  so  many  outrages  and  such  sad  catastrophes  may  be 
found  in  the  map  of  Hardwick's  History  of  Preston  under  its  true  name. 

CHAP.  XLVI. — For  much  information  respecting  the  fatal  launch  of  the  Emma,  I 
am  indebted  to  the  courtesy  of  the  Secretary  of  the  Bridgewater  Navigation  Com- 
pany, and  also  to  Mrs.  Abel  Heywood,  who  has  just  presented  to  Manchester  a  statue 
of  Oliver  Cromwell,  in  the  name  ot  her  former  husband,  Mr.  Goadsby,  who  had 
been  Mayor  of  the  city.  Mrs.  Heywood  was  originally  the  Miss  Grimes  who 
christened  the  luckless  flat. 

I  cannot  close  this  Appendix  without  acknowledging  much  kind  assistance  from 
literary  and  antiquarian  friends  in  my  researches.  Of  these  the  late  John  Harland, 
Esq ,  antiquary  and  historian;  the  late  Thomas  Jones,  Esq.,  librarian  of  Chetham 
Hospital;  and  the  Rev.  J.  Finch  Smith,  M.A.,  R.D.,  must  be  placed  foremost. 

ISABELLA    BANKS. 
London,  January,   1876. 


APPENDIX   No.  II. 


SINCE  the   publication   of  the   last   edition   of  "The  Manchester  Man,"  the  following 
letter  has  appeared   in   the   Sheffield  Daily    Telegraph,    April    5th,     1879.       It    is 
here    reproduced    in    the    hope    that    for    some    of    my    readers  it   may  have  interest, 
since  it   adds  a  new   feature   to  my  portrait   of  Madame   Broadbent :  — 
To  the  Editor  of  the   "Sheffield  Daily    Telegraph." 

"Sir,— In  your  advertisement  of  the  new  tale  by  Mrs.  Linnseus  Banks,  about  to 
appear  in  the  pages  of  your  journal,  you  quote  some  critiques  on  '  The  Manchester 
Man,'  by  the  same  author.  One  of  the  characters  is  true  to  the  very  life.  Hers 
was  the  first  school  I  ever  attended,  and  I  have  a  vivid  recollection  of  the  venerable, 
stately,  little  dame— a  rigid  martinet,  exacting  the  utmost  deference  from  all  who 
approached  her,  and  invariably  addressed  as  '  Madam '  Broadbent.  I  have  often 
since  recalled  my  feelings  of  delight  when  for  the  first  time  I  went  with  her  and 
my  schoolfellows  in  great  state  to  the  theatre,  as  described  in  her  novel.  She 
educated  the  daughters  of  most  of  the  leading  Manchester  merchants  of  that  day,  the 
wife  of  a  recent  Mayor  being  one  of  them. 

"  Madame  Broadbent  did  not  profess  the  innumerable  subjects  now  required,  but 
all  that  was  attempted  was  well  taught.  She  inculcated  habits  of  the  strictest 
order,  neatness,  and  regularity.  The  needlework  was  very  beautiful,  and  would  excite 
astonishment  in  these  sewing  machine  days.  The  punishment  for  talking  was  very 
ludicrous.  The  delinquent  was  required  to  sit  with  her  face  to  the  wall — a  hideous 
contrivance  of  red  cloth  called  the  '  red  tocgue '  hanging  down  her  back ;  it  was 
considered  a  great  disgrace.  She  succeeded  in  teaching  a  deaf  and  dumb  girl  to 
speak — a  feat  of  which  she  was  justly  proud. 

"  If  you  think  the  above  remarks  on  a  character  well  known  in  Manchester  during 
the  early  part  of  the  present  century  are  of  interest,  they  are  at  your  service. 

"C.  B. 

"Rotherham,  March  30th,    1879." 

I  regret  that  at  the  time  this  letter-  of  so  much  interest  to  me— appeared,  I  was 
too  ill  to  communicate  with  the  writer  through  the  medium  of  the  newspaper,  and 
so  the  opportunity  for  thanks  or  correspondence  was  lost. 

It  is  also  possible  that  some  of  those  who  have  followed  the  Rev.  Joshua  Brookes 
through  this  narrative  may  be  amused  by  the  following  category  of  the  books  in  his 
library,  as  advertised  for  sale  after  his  decease,  it  not  only  affordine;  some  insight 


APPENDIX  II,  465 

into   the    inner    self    of    the    man,   but  being  characteristic  of  the    advertising    of   the 
period  : — 

"Library  of  the  late  Rev.  Joshua  Brookes,  consisting  of  nearly  six  thousand  volumes. 

"To  be  Sold  by  Auction,  by  Mr.  Thomas  Dcdd,  at  his  auction  repertory,  No,  28,  King- 
street,  Manchester,  on  Monday,  May  1 3th,  1822,  and  nine  following  days,  Saturday 
and  Sunday  except  eel.  To  commence  precisely  at  half- past  ten  in  the  forenoon,  and 
at  three  in  the  afternoon  of  each  day. 

"  The  interesting  Collection  of  Books  is  replete  in  the  most  valuable  works  in 
Divinity  and  Ecclesiastical  History,  Classics,  Lives,  Memoirs,  History  and  Important 
Events,  Voyages,  Travels,  Tours,  Poetry,  Education,  Bibliography,  Magazines,  Reviews, 
Tracts,  and  a  profusion  of  Miscellaneous  Facetia  of  the  most  enlivening  and  entertaining 
description,  abounding  in  Prophetic  Admonitions,  Solid  Remarks,  Comfortable  Treatises, 
Learned  Compendiums,  Solid  Discourses,  Pious  Devotions,  Moral  Emblems,  Profound 
Researches.  Happy  Thoughts,  Gospel  Treasures.  Choice  Gleanings,  Unerring  Guides, 
Divine  Parables,  Pleasant  Reflections,  Poetical  Blossoms,  Flowers  of  Literature, 
Wonderful  Predictions,  Notable  Discoveries,  Desirable  Acquisitions,  Remarkable  Adven- 
tures, Profitable  Pursuits,  Diverting  Anecdotes,  Lively  Sallies,  Singular  Occurrences, 
Chronological  Details,  Curious  Paradoxes,  Astonishing  Conjurations,  Strange  Bubbles, 
Elegant  Epistles,  Select  Letters,  Acute  Criticisms,  Charming  Themes,  Delightful  Novels, 
Old  Romances,  Comical  Works,  Droll  Transactions,  Exquisite  Epigrams,  Smart 
Repartees,  Fairy  Tales,  Facetious  Puns,  Humourous  Stories,  Merry  Lucubrations,  Love 
Stratagems,  Ingenious  Enigmas,  Revealed  Mysteries,  Useful  Hints,  Magical  Tricks, 
Whimsical  Customs,  Odd  Freaks,  Queer  Jokes,  Flim  Flams,  Entertaining  Recreations, 
Experimental  Philosophy,  Classical  Odes,  Delphic  Oracles,  Eloquent  Orations,  Keen 
Satires,  Striking  Incidents,  Happy  Intelligence,  Tea  Table  Chat ;  and,  lastly.  Wine 
and  Oil  for  Drooping  Souls. 

"  The  Books  may  be  viewed  on  Thursday,  May  9th,  and  previous  to  the  Days  of 
Sale,  when  Catalogues  may  be  had  at  one  shilling  each." 

It  is  only  honest  to  add  that  I  am  indebted  to  a  correspondent  of  the  Manchester 
City  News  "Notes  and  Queries"  for  the  above. 

I.   B. 

London,  April,  1881. 


FINAL  APPENDIX  (HISTORICAL.) 


The  lapse  of  years  since  this  novel  was  penned,  the  sweeping  demolition  of  the 
town  it  describes,  and  the  birth  of  generations  who  cannot  recall  it,  not  only  furnish 
reasons  for  the  issue  of  this  pictorial  edition,  but  for  the  author  to  add  somewhat  to 
her  former  communications  with  her  readers,  before  she,  too,  is  swept  away,  and  further 
annotation  from  her  pen  is  impossible. 

THE  RIVER  IRK  AND  HUNT'S  BANK  BRIDGE— CHAPTERS  I.  AND  XIII. — I  have  said 
that  only  an  antiquary  or  a  very  old  inhabitant  "could  recall  Manchester  as  it  was 
at  the  close  of  the  last  century ; "  and  time  has  since  removed  most  of  the  old  people 
who,  leaning  over  the  stout  wooden  railing  along  the  embanked  river-side,  had  stood  to 
watch  the  Irk  chafe  its  swift  waters  against  the  rocky  base  of  Grammar  School  and 
College,  or  rush  along  in  flood  under  the  arch  of  Hunt's  Bank  Bridge  to  "join  the 
brimming"  Irwell  ;  for  this  must  have  been  before  the  Lancashire  and  Yorkshire 
Railway  shut  it  out  of  sight  and  memory.  And  I  question  if  any  but  myself  can 
remember  to  have  seen  the  ancient  cannon-ball  imbedded  in  the  rock  below  the  College, 
for  that  may  also  have  been  covered  up  and  buried.  It  is  more  than  sixty  years  since 
my  brother  pointed  it  out  to  me  as  a  memorial  of  the  siege.  The  maps  introduced  into 
the  volume  will  show  at  least  where  the  river  ran,  and  where  Simon  had  his  garden- 
plot  on  Walker's  Croft  above  the  embankment,  along  with  others. 

CHAP.  III.— THE  SEVEN  STARS  INN  is  still  in  existence.  It  is  said  to  be  the  most 
ancient  inn  in  Lancashire.  At  all  events,  it  has  been  a  licensed  house  since  the  reign 
of  Edward  III.,  the  first  licence  having  been  granted  A  D.  1356.  Being  a  county  licence, 
the  record  was  preserved  in  the  Record  Office,  Lancaster  Castle,  but  along  with  other 
documents  relating  to  the  Duchy  of  Lancaster  has  since  been  removed  to  London. 

There  is  a  tradition  that  the  workmen  engaged  in  building  the  Parish  Church, 
afterwards  the  Collegiate  Church,  and  now  the  Cathedral,  were  paid  a  penny  a  day 
(or  a  peck  of  meal),  and  got  their  dinners  at  the  "  Seven  Stars  Inn."  Sixty  or  more 
years  ago  it  was  a  noted  resort  for  country  carriers,  "  Seven  Stars  Yard,"  in  the  rear 
(through  which  there  was  a  convenient  thoroughfare)  never  being  without  its  complement 
of  their  covered  carts  and  waggons  from  outlying  or  distant  places.  The  '  Boar's 
Head"  at  Hyde's  Cross  was  another  rendezvous  of  the  kind,  chiefly  affected  by  the 
Cheshire  carriers,  who  brought  occasional  passengers  as  well  as  baskets,  boxes,  and 
parcels,  and  never  asked  inconvenient  questions  in  the  interest  of  the  Post  Office. 


FINAL  APPENDIX.  467 

CHAPS.  IV.— V. — THE  SUN  INN. — I  am  not  aware  of  any  ancient  record  of  this 
inn,  either  as  a  licensed  house  or  a  private  abode.  It  was  brought  into  prominence 
when  Mr.  William  Earnshaw,  a  native  of  Colne,  one  of  my  father's  old  friends,  and 
the  father  of  one  of  my  pupils,  migrated  from  Cheetham  to  become  the  landlord, 
drew  round  him  the  literary  men  of  the  town,  and  inscribed  the  legend  on  the  front, 
"Poets'  Corner."  This  was  in  the  early  forties,  when  John  Critchley  Prince  was  in 
the  ascendant,  and  lived  over  the  way.  A  glimpse  of  the  inn  may  be  seen  through 
the  College  Gateway  initial,  and  again,  in  the  larger  view  ot  the  Old  Grammar 
School,  comes  a  shoulder  of  antiquarian  interest  where  a  narrow  strip  of  window 
marks  the  sometime  "  Poets'  Fratorium." 

The  leather-breeches  maker  next  door,  whose  name  I  have  forgotten,  was  one  of 
the  old  inhabitants  when  I  was  young.  A  railed  area,  and  a  descent  into  one  of 
the  cellar  dwellings  common  at  the  time,  necessitated  an  ascent  of  three  or  four  steps 
to  what  was  evidently  the  shop  and  workshop  both.  When  buckskin-breeches  were  in 
vogue  he  had  done  a  flourishing  trade  there,  but  in  my  time  it  was  only  kept  alive 
by  a  few  old  customers,  and  those  chiefly  for  making  and  cleaning  buckskin  gloves 
and  braces. 

CHAP.  V.— THE  BRIDGEWATER  HOTEL.— This  hotel  must  have  disappeared  in 
the  general  onslaught  on  Market  Street  Lane,  but  I  believe  that  the  curious  may 
still  discover  remains  of  the  old  stabling  of  Bridgewater  Yard  in  a  little  back  street 
leading  out  of  High  Street. 

CHAP.  V. — COLONEL  HANSON  was  extremely  popular  with  the  working  people, 
who  dubbed  him  "  the  weavers'  friend."  His  politics  landed  him  in  prison.  On 
his  release  a  gold  cup,  purchased  by  the  united  pence  of  32,000  weavers,  was 
presented  to  him  at  his  residence,  Strangeways  Hall.  His  tenancy  followed  that  of 
John  Varley,  my  father's  uncle,  to  one  ol  whose  daughters  he  was  engaged.  For 
some  private  reason  the  match  was  abruptly  broken  off;  whether  on  account  of  a 
duel  he  fought  or  for  prudential  reasons  was  not  known. 

CHAPS.  VI.  AND  XXL— MANCHESTER  INFIRMARY.— This  valuable  institution  has 
undergone  many  changes  since  it  was  originally  founded  by  Mr.  Joseph  Bancroft  and 
Mr.  Charles  White,  the  eminent  and  eccentric  surgeon  of  King  Street.  At  that  time 
an  ordinary  dwelling-house  in  Garden  Street,  Salford,  was  obliged  to  suffice  for  the 
sick  poor.  It  was  but  the  experiment  of  two  Samaritans.  But  so  forcibly  did  it 
justify  its  existence  in  its  utter  inadequacy  to  meet  the  pressing  claims  upon  it,  that 
outer  benevolence  was  stimulated  :  friends  rallied  round  the  first  promoters,  donations 
were  ready,  and  Sir  Oswald  Mosley,  Lord  of  the  Manor,  executed  a  conveyance  of 
the  waste  land  around,  and  including,  the  old  Daub  Hole,  as  a  site  for  a  more 
commodious  building.  Of  this  new  Infirmary  Mr.  Miles  Brown  laid  the  first  stone, 
and  it  was  opened  for  patients  in  1755,  at  a  cost  of  ^4,000,  Mr.  James  Massey 
being  the  first  President.  The  Daub  Hole  (clay  pit)  where  the  ancient  ducking-stool 
had  served  to  cool  the  hot  blood  of  cantankerous  scolds,  became  a  long  pond  railed 
in  along  with  a  still  wider  area  devoted  to  shrubs  and  healing  herbs.  Ten  years 
later  a  Lunatic  Asylum  rose  in  line  with  the  Infirmary,  though  structurally  apart. 
Such  they  remained  for  many  years,  the  broad  gravelled  walk  in  front,  with  wide 


468  FINAL  APPENDIX. 

stretches  of  emerald  grass  on  either  hand,  becoming  the  recognised  promenade  for 
Manchester  merchants'  and  tradesmen's  families  after  Divine  service  on  Sunday 
mornings,  albeit  it  was  not  called  "Church  Parade."  I  may  here  mention  that  in 
1766  simultaneous  sermons— inaugurated  by  Warden  Peploe— were  preached  in  all  the 
Manchester  churches  in  aid  of  this  great  institution,  realising  about  ^164,  thus  creating 
a  precedent  for  "Hospital  Sunday"  a  century  in  advance  of  the  modern  movement. 
It  was  not  until  1781  that  Public  Baths  were  erected  within  the  Infirmary  area,  close 
to  the  expansive  triple  gates,  confronting  the  gardens,  and  turning  a  high  blank  wall 
to  that  end  of  George  Street. 

Such  was  the  Infirmary  as  it  was  connected  with  my  narrative,  and  as  it  existed  in 
1820,  and  as  Mr.  Fitton  has  depicted.  I  personally  remember  the  lighting  up  of  the 
clock  with  gas  in  1825,  and  various  later  alterations  in  the  building,  such  as  the 
filling  in  of  the  gap  between  the  Asylum  aud  the  Infirmary  proper.  Then  the 
fronting  of  the  whole  with  stone,  when  a  noble  pillared  portico  was  added  to  the 
fa9ade,  having  an  imposing  ascent  of  several  steps  to  the  vestibule  door.  Within 
this  vestibule  was  kept  an  old  sedan  chair  which  I  recollect  once  seeing  in  use,  and 
only  once. 

And  such,  too,  was  the  Infirmary  through  successive  decades,  until  the  sluggish 
pond— which  in  1851  welcomed  the  visit  of  Queen  Victoria  with  the  spray  from 
three  upspringing  fountains — was  voted  a  nuisance,  was  dried  up,  as  had  been  the 
chalybeate  springs  of  the  superseded  baths,  and  its  site  was  converted  into  a  flagged 
esplanade,  adorned  with  statues,  and  supplied  with  seats  for  the  wear}'.  But  it  is 
no  longer  the  Infirmary  of  my  childhood,  or  of  my  story,  and  no  wilful  Augusta 
could  within  its  area  find  the  convenient  shrubbery  in  which  to  keep  clandestine 
appointments  with  any  "  darling  Laurence."  And  now  this  is  to  be  re-built. 

CHAPS.  VIII.  to  XII. — CHETHAM'S  HOSPITAL  OR  COLLEGE. — The  word  hospital  has 
for  many  years  been  associated  with  institutions  for  the  reception  and  treatment  of 
the  sick  or  disabled.  But  when  the  benevolent  merchant,  Humphrey  Chetham,  made 
his  will,  and  suggested  the  purchase  of  this  stronghold  on  the  Irk — the  site  of  the 
Roman  Proetorium — as  a  home  for  poor  and  parentless  boys,  the  word  retained  its 
monastic  meaning  of  a  guest-house,  or  hospitium,  for  the  shelter  and  entertainment  of 
way-worn  or  belated  travellers,  irrespective  of  rank  or  condition,  hence  its  legal 
application  to  this  foundation.  Yet,  for  two  previous  centuiies  the  building  had  been 
a  College  attached  to  Christ's  Church,  the  pious  priest-lord,  Thomas  de  la  Warr, 
having  surrendered  his  baronial  hall  for  the  reception  of  the  Warden  and  Fellows 
when  he  obtained  Royal  permission  to  collegiate  the  church,  then  newly-built  of  stone 
to  replace  an  earlier  structure  of  wood.  The  name  of  "  College  "  stuck  to  the  building, 
and  very  properly  so,  considering  its  two-fold  dedication  to  learned  and  pious  uses, 
whether  as  a  home  and  school  for  the  training  of  deserving  boys,  or  as  the  repository 
of  Chetham's  unique  library  of  rare  and  priceless  books,  open  and  free  to  the  students 
of  the  world. 

It  was  thus  the